The Fathers of the Church remind us that there were many miracles that Jesus performed; when a particular one stood out in the memory of the evangelists, it was perhaps for a particular spiritual lesson that the story can offer to us as we read and listen to it. AS always, we are invited to enter into the scene before us and allow Jesus to address us.
To begin, Mark provides us with an interesting geography lesson as he relates the route that Jesus took from Tyre to the Sea of Galilee. To travel between these two points via Sidon and the Decapolis is a little like travelling from Sydney to Canberra via Newcastle and Bathurst. You can do it, but you should seriously consider updating your GPS if that is the suggested route!
All of the details that St Mark offers to us are significant. Note, it is not the man who presents himself, but like the paralysed man who needs his friends to make a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was staying, so it is the faith of his friends who first bring him to Jesus. Although Jesus could have cured him there and then, he takes the time to lead him away from the distractions of the crowd and away to be by himself. Maybe we need to do the same, if we fail to hear the word of God regularly?
When the healing itself is described, there are four parts. First Jesus establishes a reconnection between this man who would be isolated by being deaf and unable to speak, so he is touched – first in the ear (did Jesus invent the wet willy?) and then with spittle to help to restore the deformed tongue of the man. Then Jesus shows the depths of his compassion for the man and his frustration at the effects of sin in the world by a profound sigh, accompanied by a word that is remembered in the original Aramaic of Jesus (one of four instances in the Gospel of Mark).
Recorded at St Paul’s, 5.30pm (12’09”)
Sunday 23B. Mark 7:31-37 (Isaiah 35)