23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)


23rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B) Mark 7: 31-37

September 09, 2015

“He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak”.

Through our five senses we get in touch with the world around us. We traditionally recognize five methods of perception: hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. But these are only ways of being in contact with the physical existence. The man in today´s Gospel was deaf and had a speech impediment. When a group of concern and compassionate people brought him to Jesus, “He took him 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.”

Like in all of Jesus´ miracles, in this one we need to read the message beyond the natural physical healing. What Jesus gives to this man is the capacity to hear his word, God´s Word: “Ephphatha” and set him free from his speech impediment, in order to praise God. Today, thanks God, we can hear his Word in the Holy Scripture and we can also worship him by praying and singing. I am sure the man whose hearing and speech were restored joined the crowd to praise Jesus, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak”.

In our first reading today we hear a beautiful poem from Isaiah foreseeing healing from human illness as a future liberation by the Messiah, “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God (…) He comes to save you (…) Then will the eyes of the blind be open, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.” We hear today Jesus fulfilling Isaiah´s prophecy as he cures the deaf man, as the coming of the messianic times. The historic context is the return of God´s people from exile.

Mark is brief in his narrative nonetheless he describes Jesus as being physically involved in the healing of the deaf: the laying of his hand on him, the touching with the finger into the man´s ear, the spittle, the groaning, and the articulation of the original Aramaic expression “Ephphatha.” Again, we hear in Mark, Jesus requesting for his “Messianic secret.” Jesus does not want to be a popular healer o miracle worker. Jesus is the Savior and he wants to make us whole, to heal us totally body, spirit, and soul. Perhaps some of us are physically ill, or have a terminal illness, or a psychological sickness, or an addiction, or a sick relationship. And we are here looking for cure. Healing is reciprocal; if we want to be healed by God, we need also to be instruments of healing for others.

In the Gospel we hear that there are many who hear but they do not understand, and Jesus himself says, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Jesus´ mission as a Messiah is to cure all kind of diseases. He cures a deaf man, but deafness is more than physical, it is spiritual and moral; it is to be closed to God and to others, especially to a spouse, to children, to parents, to the community. Deafness is often times indifference.

The Risen Christ continues healing the world through the Church´s action, and not only by preaching the Gospel and forgiving sin, but also curing the sick, taking care of the poor, the elderly and the outcast; working against all kind of injustice and oppression, and preaching liberation at all levels and defending world human rights. All Baptized Christians are called to this mission, and not just the ordained ministers. Let us pray today for Jesus´ “Ephphatha”, “be opened”, that he may open our ears and lips to his action and ask him to help us be instruments of healing for those around us.

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