Thursday, February 12, 2015

Music to Our Ears

By Colleen O’Sullivan
The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”  The woman answered the serpent:  “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, “You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.”  But the serpent said to the woman:  “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like the gods who know what is good and what is evil.”   (Genesis 3:1b-5)

(Jesus) took (the deaf man) off by himself away from the crowd.  He put his finger into the man’s ears and spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)  And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.  (Mark 7:33-35)

Open my ears, Lord, that I may be attuned to the sound of your voice.  Loosen my tongue that I may ever sing your praise.

When I picture the garden in Genesis, I see lush green foliage in every direction, with a ground cover of thick, weed-free grass.  The trees, the shrubs, the flowers and fruits all speak of good life in abundance.  Off to the side, camouflaged in the leaves of a tree, is a green snake.  Silently, unnoticed, the serpent glides closer to the woman in the story. 

Isn’t that the way temptation and evil slide their way into our lives, too, quietly and surreptitiously?   I don’t think I’ve ever gotten up in the morning and thought, “Today I will struggle with temptation or contend with evil.”  No, the Evil Spirit comes camouflaged in the doings of the day, and makes an unobtrusive approach.  This snake convinces the woman that God is wrong; she won’t die if she eats the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden.

Just as the Evil One entices the woman to do the only thing God has asked her not to do, so the same serpent speaks to us in honeyed tones, trying and sometimes succeeding in getting us to go in the wrong direction.

What sounds so good to the first woman, possessing the knowledge of good and evil, turns out in the end to be a death of a sort.  Before this, she and the man have known only the love, goodness, peace and abundance of the Lord.  The moment guilt and shame raise their ugly heads, however, that harmony and tranquility are forever disturbed.  Now they are ashamed for God to see them in their naked sinfulness.

The Evil Spirit knows how to sing a tune beguiling to our ears.  The melody is beautiful, concealing the reality of the temptation and the fall into sin which lie ahead if we succumb.

In the Gospel reading, we see Jesus opening the ears of a man so that he might hear and have a deeper understanding of the way of the Lord.  If we ask Jesus, he can open our ears, too, to music more compelling than any sound the Evil One can produce, the sound of God calling us into being, loving us, forgiving us our sins, laughing with us, comforting us in our sorrows, and inviting us to be with him forever. 

The Evil One never tires of seeking ways to get between each of us and God.  Reflect on specific situations in which you have been tempted or the alluring melodies that have been sung to entice you to turn from God.  Then pray that Jesus will open your ears to that deeper, life-giving song eternally sung to us by his Father. 

No comments: