Jesus makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. He wants us to hear clearly the word of God and to proclaim it rightly.
Those who have witnessed the healing of a deaf-mute recognize that Jesus brings in the new creation. They proclaim that the healer of the deaf and the mute does everything well. It brings to mind the statement in Gen 1 that everything that the Creator had made was good.
But the proclamation also recalls Isaiah’s words to those in exile. The prophet announced a new exodus to the faint-hearted. And their coming salvation would be complete. Blind eyes would see, deaf ears hear; the lame would leap, the mute sing
So then, the crowd rightly senses that Jesus is not just another healer or preacher. He is the one who is to come, the one everyone awaits. His miracles and teachings show that the kingdom of God is at hand.
But this does not mean that the people’s sense is always right. They turn a deaf ear to every hint that the Messiah will suffer. They, then, have a distorted idea of the Messiah. And if those with distorted ideas speak, they will do as the mute, with speech impediment. To avoid any distortion, then, Jesus orders those who see his miracles to say nothing to no one.
Jesus, moreover, takes the deaf-mute away from the crowd. The crowd, after all, suggests misunderstanding. Being away from the distorting influence of the crowd is something that healing demands.
We, too, are deaf and mute, and in need of healing.
We groan while we wait for full redemption. Our personal experience of disconnect between our thoughts and our actions makes us sigh also.
And we fall short with regard to hearing the word of God and proclaiming it. That is because our self-interests get in the way. We even victimize again murder victims because we use them to advance racist views. Even in the church, we may perhaps speak against scandals, against deaf and mute leaders. But don’t we just do so to try to grab power?
We need, then, to stir into flame the gifts of hearing and speaking we have through Jesus’ “Ephphatha!” And surely, the Lord God gives us the tongue of a disciple, so we know how to speak to the weary. Morning after morning, he opens our ears that we may hear, and not rebel.
And the invitation to the table of the Word and Sacrament is there for the taking. As we feed on Jesus, he will change us into himself.
Lord Jesus, heal us deaf and mute people. May we follow your teaching, never that of the worldly crowd (see CRCM II:1). Make us see clearly past the shabby clothes poor people wear, so that we may rightly tell them to take seats of honor.
9 September 2018
23rd Sunday in O.T. (B)
Is 35, 4-7a; Jas 2, 1-5; Mk 7, 31-37