Gestures and Words That Heal and Proclaim

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus opens our ears and makes loose the strings of our tongues.  He enables us to make gestures that heal and speak words that proclaim God’s kingdom.

Amazing magic for the sake of a deaf and mute in a place where pagans live?  If this is what Jesus’ gestures make us think of, then we miss their true meaning.

The truth is that Jesus takes aside, away from the crowd, the one whom others have brought to him.  He would not do so should he want to amaze the crowd and foster the sensational.  After all, he does not need the crowd.  They are blind, deaf, mute, lack faith, worship idols (Mk 10, 4-12; Lk 1, 20; Ps 115, 5. 8).

So, no, what Jesus does and says is not magic.  The power of magic is said to lie in the gestures magicians make and in the words they say.  And is it not true that the less the devout understand these gestures and words (in Latin), the more wondrous, awesome and solemn they take them?

Jesus does put his fingers into the man’s ears.  He also spits and touches the man’s tongue, then he groans and says, “Ephphatha.”  With such gestures and word, he seeks to get through to, and in touch with, the one who is hemmed in.

He groans, yes, and shows sorrow and anger (see also Jn 11, 33. 38).  That is to say, he feels deep pain in the face of what sin has done to the man.  But the Word made flesh, who has the strength to do what God wants, gets through; he gets in.

And such through and through union does away with an obstacle to communication and communion.  Humans also start to get back the fullness and wholeness before the fall.  They can be a new creation and true images of God again.

Gestures and word of love and mercy

Yes, Jesus’ gestures and words mean to get in touch, share, show mercy, heal, make one, make new.  Hence, our gestures and words as Christians are to mean the same.  And we are to witness too that Jesus ushers in the kingdom of God.  For he opens the eyes of the blind, makes the deaf hear and welcomes the poor and the pagans (Mt 11, 5-6).

But are we not among the deaf and mute whom Jesus should heal?  Among those who are not aware of what goes on around them?  Not aware that they are deaf and mute, and that is why others bring them to Jesus and beg him to heal them?

Jesus forbid that we turn deaf ears to the cry of the poor (EG 187).  May he not find us guilty of gestures of “comfortable and silent complicity” (EG 211).

Rather, may he open and waken our ears morning by morning to hear the Good News as trainees do.  May he give us well-trained tongues that we may know how to announce the Good News to the weary.  Besides, may he give us the strength to be “as death” (Baldwin of Canterbury).  That is to say, to put to death the old life of “me first,” to give up the body, to shed blood, so that the new life may spring.

Lord Jesus, make us do sweet gestures and say words that heal the weary and proclaim the Good News (SV.EN X:268).

5 September 2021
23rd Sunday in O.T. (B)
Is 35, 4-7a; Jas 2, 1-5; Mk 7, 31-37

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