23 Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 5 September 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Isaiah 35: 4-7a; Responsorial: Psalm 146; II: James 2: 1-5; Gospel: Mark 7: 31-37
The Liturgy of the Word for this Sunday brings refreshing promise and example of the healing and restoration of the human soul and creation.
The beautiful prophecy by Isaiah exhorts us to “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes…with vindication, salvation, healing of the blind, the deaf, the cripple. WITH GOD’s touch the mute will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert…burning sands will become pools. Drought will be vanquished.
The psalm and the reading from James affirm the desire of God to come to us, regardless of our station or perceived worth, and to touch and heal us of our blindness, our deafness, our afflictions. The Gospel from Mark shares the poignant lesson of a deaf man with impaired speech who would experience the touch of Jesus. A message that can touch us all.
This account in the Gospel of Mark gives us many insights into the desires and ways of God to heal and restore a suffering soul. It tells how a group of people bring a man who is deaf and impaired in his speech. By all indication he is willing. But he had never heard of Jesus..or heard Jesus. Perhaps he had watched him but the ability of the man to realize the infinite graces of God Christ could bring were profoundly impaired.
The suffering man is, in many ways, an example of us all. Our ability to hear, to listen to each other, to the songs of creation, shared words of prayer and praise are often…blocked. Our ability to hear the living Word of God can be deafened from the noise of the world or simply our doubts. The impaired ability of the man to speak may well have been a result of his deafness, as is common. Again, our ability to speak clear words of faith, hope, of life, words of love can be hindered by conditions in our soul. As Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” [Luke 6:45]. While we may not desire to speak words of hurtful jest or discouragement our own fears or resentments may block the message we long to live. But as it was for this deaf man so it shall be for all who will allow themselves to be brought closer to Jesus. And then to allow Christ to bring us His healing.
When the deaf man was brought to Jesus he was taken aside to be alone with God. Jesus knew He understood this man’s needs. Christ knows we need time to be with Him. Alone. He knows we may be fearful. He understands we will often not understand what is going on. But God always knows. He understands. And wants to come to us. He wants to touch and heal us in our wounds and needs.
The healing described in the gospel is very distinct. Jesus could not explain, ahead of time what He was going to do. So He very visually got the man’s full attention. He touched his tongue after spitting and after touching the man’s ears. And the man could hear and speak!
We can never afford to confine the graces of our Savior, our God, to our understanding or set formulas with which we are comfortable. How, where, when God will come to a soul in need is simply up to God. None of us has the faculties, faith, or intelligence to plan the graces, the healing interventions of God. However much we may try. And this applies to our own lives or the lives of others. We need only trust and allow Jesus to touch both in and through us. Let us trust and seek the touch of God to quench the thirst for healing, hope, and mercy in and through His Body the church. May the water His Divine Mercy flow upon our land and our souls.