23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel Reading: Mark 7:31-37
31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him.
33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
Pointer for Homily Reflection
Ministering to the Marginalized
Mark, the evangelist labors so much to introduce Jesus as a person with authority. This authority is best expressed in his ministry of healing the sick, including the Mother-in-Law of Peter, driving away the demons taking possession of souls, performing miracles of feeding the multitude and teaching souls. However, the highest expression of this authority is yet to be exposed i.e. the authority of self-giving for others, the authority of self-sacrifice for the salvation of all—the highest authority expressed in taking the cross in obedience to his Father’s will and in rising from the death three days after.
In this Sunday’s gospel reading, this authority of Jesus is again manifest in His ministering to the marginalized soul. One has to simply imagine oneself to have lost two of the five senses—hearing and speaking. While on the one hand one is still able to see things as they happen, or even smell things around, on the other hand, one remains secluded, not forming part of the greater community because one cannot spontaneously interpellate, cannot fully interact with what is coming and going around.
We really do not know whether this hearing and speech impediments were from birth or were lost through accidents within his life circumstances. In whatever instance these impediments happened, these are soul-wrecking experiences, these can cause ultimate depression and a loss for the sense of life.
The authority of Jesus expressed in giving back the two important senses is in truth a ministry of life. The healing was not a simple giving back the two lost senses. On the contrary it is giving back dignity and meaning of life. This is empowering once again a soul to make decision, to participate in the redemptive act of charity, to contribute not only to self development but to the building up of a greater society. Jesus power does not only heal—it brings back to life goodness, charity and above all a sense of dignity and life.
The healing word of Jesus “Ephratha!” – is not only a command that loosens the muscles of the ears and throat; but a command that will ring though life–a command to be open once again to the challenges of charity, justice, truth and dignity; a command to participate in reaching out to others.
How have we used our authority? Was it to favor friends and barkadas? Was it to kill and destroy souls, ingenuity and innovative spirits? Was it a selfish exposition of will and command? We know that these are no authority in their real sense.