Twenty Third Sunday B

Hear and Proclaim

Jesus takes a curious route from Tyre to the Sea of Galilee, his destination. Instead of travelling south to the Sea of Galilee, Jesus heads north to Sidon. He travels through Gentile country to the region of Decapolis (the Ten Cities). It seems that this roundabout trip is Mark’s way of indicating the universality of Jesus’ mission. With a series of miracles worked among the Gentiles we are prepared to hear the next Gospel passage, the feeding of 4000 Gentiles. The encounter with the deaf man who also had a speech impediment is described vividly. Jesus is physically involved in healing the man. We can imagine Jesus taking the man aside, physically touching his ears, putting spittle on his tongue, and groaning as he looked up to Heaven. These sensate, visible actions (as in our sacramental rites) communicated the invisible power of God in and through Jesus. The cure is immediate and complete. Mark uses a literary device called the ‘messianic secret’ as Jesus cautions, “Tell no one.” The mission of Jesus must be understood in the light of the Resurrection. Unlike the many healers in his day, Jesus is bringing forth a new age of Salvation. In a homily on this passage St. Gregory the Great said, “The Spirit is called the finger of God. When the Lord put his finger into the ears of the deaf mute, he was opening the soul of the man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” We are this man, often deaf to the Word of God and unable to proclaim the Good News. Through the Spirit we can “be opened” to hear and clearly speak God’s Word indiscriminately and generously to all.

The Faith of the Church

Pope Paul VI wrote an apostolic exhortation on proclaiming the Good News: Evangelization in the Modern World. Without the Spirit the proclamation of the Good News is impossible. Through the action of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the Apostles went forth into the world to preach the message of Jesus. Throughout the centuries the Spirit has been the soul of the Church. Through the Spirit we understand the mystery of Jesus and are given the words to share the Good News. (Evangelization in the Modern World #75)

Meditation Moment

Jesus took [the deaf-mute] off alone, away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and touched the man’s tongue. Then Jesus [prayed] . . . . At once the man was able to hear. . . and he began to talk. MARK 7: 33-35 Many awake each day not to the sound of an alarm on a table, but to the whir of a vibrator under a pillow. Like the deaf-mute in the gospel, these people live in a silent world. For them, turning on the radio is useless. Watching TV is a bland experience. Conversation is virtually impossible. But the plight of a physical deaf-mute is nothing compared to the plight of a spiritual deaf-mute – someone who can’t hear God or talk to God in prayer. And all of us fall into this category, at least at times in our lives. Spiritually, we live in a silent world. For reflection . . . Have I ever asked Jesus to take me off “away from the crowd” and heal me of my spiritual deafness and dumbness? “IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?”