Do words spoken ever really fall on deaf ears? Do actions taken ever slide into the universe with no effect?
I pondered these questions recently after reading both the newspaper and Mark’s Gospel, where the rich young man asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life, after having kept all the laws and commandments. Jesus said he lacked only one thing, to “sell what you have, give to the poor, then come, follow me.” This youth, who had many possessions, turned and walked away, sad. End of story. Or is it?
Sometimes we encounter the gospels two-dimensionally, believing that what we read and hear is the complete picture. But, did the person in the parable sadly walk away and continue life as he knew it? Or was he impacted forever by that face-to-face encounter with Jesus? Did Jesus’ words, initially rejected, eventually matter? What is the rest of the story?
We know this person went away sad. But perhaps she could not stop thinking about this encounter and the words Jesus spoke. Perhaps they did not fall on deaf ears but continued ringing in them, continued burning in her heart. Perhaps a day, a month or even years later, she opened her heart, let go of what bound her, and followed Jesus, no matter the cost.
One lesson we can take from this gospel so applicable to our world today is that our words and actions matter. We should never underestimate the impact they might have on those around us. They are organic seeds that, in our planting of them, can either nurture life or sow destruction.
Another lesson is that Jesus is a patient farmer. He knows that some seeds take longer to sprout than others, that the growing season is different for everyone!
Kathy Flynn, OP
Whitefish Bay, WI