Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time


 Mark 7.31-37

"He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak"

Jesus had just been in the area of Tyre and Sidon and moved on to the Decapolis region, a Gentile area where Jews would not usually go for fear of being defiled by foreigners. Once again we see Jesus crossing the boundaries of prejudice. With a word and a gesture Jesus raised a deaf and dumb Gentile out of his misery. His ears were opened and his tongue was loosened, and no doubt he was one of the first to speak of his unbounded admiration for this Jew who "has done all things well". In touching this man's ears and tongue, Jesus reached his heart as well. The physical healing was only part of this miracle story; his ears and his heart are now opened so that even he, a Gentile, can hear the word of God, and his loosened tongue can profess faith in Jesus.

Through the gift of faith our ears are opened to hear the Word of God and our tongues are loosened to speak about Christ to others. Yet there is something of the deaf and dumb man in each of us, as when we fail or even refuse to listen or speak as truth and love demand. We can remain deaf to the cries of distress all around us, deaf to the deeper needs of our neighbour, deaf to what people are really trying to say, and even deaf to what God is saying to us in and through the experiences of our lives. Likewise, there are times when we are virtually dumb through our failure to speak that called-for word of truth, of caring and encouragement, or of forgiveness and reconciliation. We too need our Lord's healing touch if we are to use well the wonderful gifts of speech and hearing that we so easily take for granted.

Today's gospel is not merely telling of what Jesus did for an unfortunate foreigner in the past. It tells of what he is continually longing to do in our lives today. He wants us to hear with openness of heart what he has to say, to welcome and accept him in his word; he also wants us to bring his word to others, that they too may know him, welcome him, and rejoice in his love.