Year B: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Mark 7: 31-37
Today, we have another of the healing stories from Mark’s Gospel - with an interesting geographical detail as Mark describes the route taken by Jesus. The regions referred to were largely Gentile and some believe that this detail was included by Mark to show that Jesus’ ministry was not just to the Jewish people.
It is also adds significance to the healing that took place: the healing of a deaf and mute man. As always, the description of the cure is not an end in itself but carries a message for the readers of the Gospel. In this healing, Jesus has gone through Gentile territory - and opens the ears of the deaf man so that he can hear - and loosens his tongue to speak of what he has experienced.
Set in the context of Mark’s readers - and bringing it into our own experience, we can see beyond the physical healing to what it might represent. Jesus - the Word made flesh - walks among the Gentile nations and comes across someone who cannot hear the words he speaks. His response is to perform a gently healing ritual and bid the ears to be opened so that the deaf man can hear. We may remember a Gospel of two weeks ago when Peter said: “yours are the words of eternal life” - and see that Jesus was healing the man so that he could hear those words for himself.
Jesus tried to tell people not to talk about the healing - possibly aware that most people would stay at the “hearing about a miracle” stage - and not ponder what that miracle signified about Jesus - or about its implications for them.
The deaf man heard the Word made flesh in person - we have to rely on hearing the Word made present in the Scriptures and Eucharist. In some countries, the “Ephphatha” rite forms part of the sacrament of Baptism. In this, the ears of the catechumen are anointed and so rendered open to the Word of God.
The speech of the deaf man was also healed and, we are told, he could speak clearly. For us, this suggests that we too are to speak clearly about what we have heard - to allow our tongues to be loosened to tell others of the great things that God has done for us.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring