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EXCELLENT GOD!

Read­ing Time: 3 minutes

Introduction

In the Gos­pel read­ing of last Sunday (Mark 7:1–23), we saw how Jesus silenced the Phar­isees and the Scribes, and dis­tanced him­self from their unne­ces­sary dis­crim­in­a­tion due to their undue obed­i­ence to human tra­di­tion. In his cla­ri­fic­a­tions, Jesus explained to them that what defiles a per­son is not what he or she eats, but the thoughts that eman­ates from the heart. While they were after mater­i­al or phys­ic­al con­tam­in­a­tion, Jesus taught them (and us) to beware of spir­itu­al and mor­al con­tam­in­a­tions and impur­it­ies. In this Sunday read­ing, Jesus fights one of the factors that could obscure our wor­ship and rela­tion­ship with God – sick­ness in its vari­ous forms. To be noted also is that Jesus is no more in the Jew­ish ter­rit­ory. From Mark 7:24, Jesus is already found in the Gentile/Pagan ter­rit­ory, mean­ing that sal­va­tion (in its diverse forms) is for all, against the con­cep­tion and mono­poly of the Jews. Hence, we see in this Gos­pel an image of the pro­clam­a­tion of the Good News of Jesus even to the Gen­tiles. As already noted, the geo­graph­ic ref­er­ences tell us Jesus is now journeying.….

Be opened!

Hav­ing returned from the region of Tyre, and going the way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Deca­pol­is, “they brought to him a deaf man who had an imped­i­ment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him” (Mark 7:32). Jesus begins his mis­sion of lib­er­a­tion from ignor­ance, sick­ness, and lack of the true know­ledge of God even in the Gen­tile ter­rit­ory and among the Gen­tiles. The per­son brought to Jesus was ser­i­ously sick. He was dumb and had speech dif­fi­culty too. There was no way Jesus could have ignored this man. Not even the hos­til­ity between the Greeks and the Jews could stop him. Inter­est­ing and import­ant are Jesus’ ges­tures lead­ing to the heal­ing of the deaf man. Mark spe­cific­ally under­lines that Jesus took the deaf man apart and away from the crowd (in private); put his fin­ger in his ear; spit­ted; and touched his tongue. What are the sig­ni­fic­ances of these ges­tic­u­la­tions? As his tra­di­tion, Mark avoids pub­lic dis­play of Jesus’ heal­ings (cf. also Mark 5:37.40). Since it was not a spec­tacle, Jesus had to take the deaf man aside. In the then Juda­ism, it was a com­mon prac­tice to con­so­ci­ate thera­peut­ic power to a person’s saliva. The fin­ger in the ear recalls the magi­cians’ exclam­a­tion in Egypt: “This is the fin­ger of God!”

Conclusion

There is an irony in the story of heal­ing of the deaf. Jesus gives the man the gift of speech, but then tells him not to use it. Jesus asks that the news of his heal­ing power, which is evid­ence of his iden­tity as the Mes­si­ah, not be spread. This is a recur­ring motif in Mark’s Gos­pel and is often called the “Mes­si­an­ic Secret” (Ger­man: Das Mes­si­as­ge­heim­nis). For instance, Jesus silences the demons who know him (cf. Mark 1:34; 3:11–12); tells people who are healed not to tell any­one about him (cf. Mark 1:44–45; 5:43; 7:35–37; 8:26); speaks in par­ables so that people will not under­stand what he says (cf. Mark 4:11–12); and finally, his dis­ciples do not under­stand who he is (cf. Mark 4:41). How­ever, the more Jesus for­bids, the more the Good News is spread (cf. Mark 1:28.45; 3:7–8; 7:36–37). For Mark, everything about Jesus is secret. What is this mes­si­an­ic secret?

FOR DETAILS, GET YOUR OWN COPIES OF THE BOOKTHE WORD OF LIFE: SUNDAY REFLECTIONS” (vols. I and II)!! The reflec­tion for the 23rd Sunday of the year (B) is found in vol. II pages 389–399. Happy reading!

For details on how to get it, con­tact the author on this link: https://m.me/uchennabiblia?fbclid=IwAR2yeg4a6sDGBp9QGkIvKj6FSADumMokN6lshdE0zuo-JHs6qOmlhA7jyHo or email me at: postmaster@uchennabiblia.com or simply send an SMS on 08116100926, and I will get back to you.

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