Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 128 Gospel Mk 7:31-37
Mark in his gospel narrative recorded an amazingly accurate observation in describing the man that Jesus healed.He described him first as deaf,and second as having a speech impediment.Any one who has ever been around people who are severely hearing impaired would likely make that same clinical observation. People who have trouble hearing also have trouble speaking. So much of the way we speak is dependent on listening to the sounds of others.Our ability to speak is largely dependent on our ability to hear. The two are connected. The same is true in the way Mark observed this individual. Mark could have noticed he was deaf, but overlooked his speech or noticed his faulty speech and overlooked his hearing impairment.One might have been more obvious to the observer depending on whether he talked to that individual, or listened to him speak. This same challenge is presented to the gospel reader with regard to Jesus healing of the individual. Jesus preforms several acts, yet which one the reader attributes to the healing is largely dependent on the reader . Likely the one that stands out the most is the ritual preformed: ”He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue.” A ritual such as that certainly would be qualified for a miracle healing , but what of the other steps? They are so simple they are barely noticed. The first is that the man begged for healing, and that Jesus removed him from the crowd. What does this tell us ? First the man wanted help, he was receptive to Jesus. Second in removing him from the crowd.Could it be that Jesus was separating the man from the source of his disability? So many times we speak what we hear regardless if it is correct: to speak a good message , perhaps it is necessary to hear a good message ! Perhaps Jesus removed him from the crowd so that the gentleman would not be distracted from the message Jesus wished to give him. Deafness can be caused by to much background noise, and a message can be drowned out! Jesus’s next step was “to look up to the heavens.” Jesus literally turns to the Father and says Ephphatha!” meaning “be opened”. One way to interpret that would be Father help this man! Then Sir, turn to God! Be open, that is be open to God and be open to Gods message. Listen to God and his message, and speak the truth! Now, which healed the man? Was it Jesus putting his finger in the mans ear, and spitting while grabbing his tongue; or was it Jesus taking the man aside and giving him a dose(medicine) of the gospel (good news) and telling the man to turn (therapeutic) towards God ?