The Gospel on Sunday, the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, presented us with a story of healing. It comes from a section of Mark’s Gospel where it is clear that the clouds are gathering, that people are increasingly closing their ears to the Good News that Jesus preaches.
Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’
Mark refers to a group of people in the gospel as ‘they’. They brought him, their admiration, their disobedience.The role of this group is somewhat ambiguous. They applaud Jesus, but they disobey him. They bring a man for healing, but Jesus distances himself from them before healing the man.
In time the crowd will turn on Jesus, but for now their intention seems good.
Where and why does the change come? When is it that themselves start to need healing and helping. Is it already now, but they themselves eager for the healing of another are closed to their own need?
The questions posed with the posting of this Gospel last week remain pertinent.
In Mark’s gospel it is very soon after this passage that Jesus starts to speak of the Cross, and of his forthcoming Passion. Jesus knows the cost of his ministry of love, but remains faithful to it.
- Where do I need healing, opening , restoring to life?
- Where/how might I share this with others?
However we might ask another too:
- What keeps me and them from sometimes seeing our need for healing and help?
Photograph of the cell, in Auschwitz, of St Maximilian Kolbe, the saint of mercy and freedom: where he and 10 others were starved and poisoned to death. (c) 2013, Allen Morris. The feast of St Maximilian is the 14th August. St Maximilian, pray for us.