Soul Food for the Hungry Adult: Reflection: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: September 9, 2012.
Gospel: Mark 7:31-37. Reading 1: Isaiah 35:4-7. Reading 2: St. James 2:1-5.
Lord, we’re all ears!
Jesus’ sat-nav must have been turned off, because Mark tells us he took the long way ‘round, in order to get home. He went through un-believing territory, to an unbelieving people. Maybe he just felt more at home, more welcomed, among these foreign gentiles. He took the long way home, because he left Tyre (in modern Lebanon, up the coast), heading for Galilee down South: but instead of going direct, he skirted Galilee on the east, then travelled in the ‘region of the ten cities’ (called ‘Decapolis’ in Greek), which is in modern Jordan, south of Galilee. This is one of the few Gentile places in which he ministered. He covered some territory, in this trip at least. You should find the map in your Bible.
And here, among these Gentiles or unbelievers, he was brought a man with hearing and speech impediments. Jesus takes him aside, away from his friends for a while, and then puts his finger in the man’s ears, and puts some of his spittle on the man’s tongue. Jesus was and is a hands on person! And he spoke in his own native tongue, Aramaic, and said ‘Ephphatha!’ which Mark translated for his readers as ‘Be opened’. We use the same words during Baptism when the priest touches the ears and the mouth of the person being baptized and says ‘Ephphatha! Be opened!’ We’re still asking Jesus to open our ears to hear God’s words to us, and our mouths to proclaim God’s praise.
And the previously un-believing Gentiles were astonished,- ‘their admiration was unbounded’ says Mark.
And if Jesus would only come and visit us, in all our unbelieving and our doubts and questions,- and if we could bring one another to him for his healing of our own deafness and being tongue-tied about our faith, he would gladly do it, in his own special way, in his own time. And if we ask him to do it, He will! And then, we will be astonished with joy. And that’s why he came. “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full!’ (John 15).
Lord, we’re all ears!
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R.