The miracles of Jesus never cease to make us wonder. If
we were in the place of the onlookers on that day we too
would be utterly amazed and our admiration would, like
theirs, be unbounded.
And in a certain sense we today actually are onlookers to that miracle, even if at the distance of 2000 or so years. Down the ages those words resonate: He has done all things well, he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.
Even as we read the words of the scriptures as they tell of that great miracle those words seem as if they were our own words; he certainly has done all things well!
There is no doubt in our minds that Jesus was the Son of God and that he can perform great miracles, both when he walked this earth and indeed also in our own day. But miracles and signs and wonders are not really what Jesus is about. They are not his primary purpose. They are not what he came among us to achieve.
What he came for was to give his life in sacrifice for our sins so that we might be saved and have the way to eternal life opened up for us. In other words, he came to bring us salvation. The miracles of Jesus are not, however, some sort of temporary sideshow in the life of Jesus. They are not merely incidental.
They are filled with meaning because the miracles are signs indicating clearly who Jesus is. They also point to the salvation he brings us and let us know what form it takes.
In the first reading we hear the prophecy of Isaiah which gives a list of the things that will accompany the coming of the Savior: the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, the lame leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy.
In performing miracles Jesus confirms these and other prophecies and shows himself definitively to be the Messiah so long expected. That he comes in a gentle and unobtrusive way, that he is a Messiah who refuses the trappings of power, that he is no conqueror but rather a peacemaker does not bring him to the attention of the religious authorities.
They fail to recognize that he is the true Messiah but yet the signs are there if they would but only look. And that is what the miracles of Jesus are, signs. They are metaphors for the salvation he brings. In the Kingdom of God the dumb speak, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the possessed are freed, the sick healed, the water becomes wine, all are fed and the dead are raised to life.
The particular aspects highlighted in today’s Gospel passage are speech and hearing. Jesus opened that man’s ears but in a real sense he opens all our ears. He opens them to the Word of God, to himself in other words.
Jesus speaks to us. He does so in a myriad of ways: through his words in scripture, through the mouths of our brothers and sisters, through signs and events, and seeming coincidences in our own lives. He quite often has to break through a lot of barriers to make himself heard. We put up many obstacles such as our prejudices, our treasured opinions, our so-called experience.
Frequently we actually make ourselves deaf to the Word of God, especially if we feel that on hearing it we might be obliged to make some changes in our lives. We easily delude ourselves into making exceptions to the Gospel to suit our own particular circumstances.
Jesus, however, can break through all this. He only has to say ‘be opened’ and we will hear his saving words despite all the self-generated ‘wax’ that has blocked our ears for so long.
But we do not have to wait for Jesus himself to decide to intervene. We can ask him now to help us to hear his Word. We can ask him to unblock our senses, enabling us to hear his Good News afresh. We can ask him to speak again to us in ways that we can easily understand.
Here is a new prayer to add to your list: Lord, unblock my ears; help me to hear what you have to say to me.
And the dumb speak. It is not only our ears that need to be put to proper use but also our tongues. There are few people who are truly dumb. There are, however, a lot of us who put our tongues to improper use.
The man in the miracle spoke clearly. The people took up the refrain and told everyone they could about what had happened. They praised God and proclaimed his wonders.
God gave us the gift of speech to tell the truth and to make known the wonders of the salvation he won for us. Let our second prayer today be: Lord loosen my tongue so that I may bring your Good News to all I meet.
We are speaking of a miracle that occurred when Jesus walked this earth. What about the miracles that he performs in our midst right now? We do not speak about them much and tend to think that the miraculous belongs to the past or to Lourdes or some other far off place. We don’t think much about miracles today here in Wealdstone.
And if we don’t think about miracles we won’t expect them. And if we don’t expect them then we’ll fail to recognize them when they do occur. And if we don’t expect them then we would never think of asking for a miracle, a serious error indeed.
If you were a priest you would frequently hear about miracles, not every day but often enough for you to realize that they are happening all around. Almost everyone you meet has a story to tell of some extraordinary intervention in their life.
As a priest people tell you in private all sorts of remarkable things. Sometimes they realise the meaning of what has occurred, other times they are puzzled and need you to help them interpret these events. Very often the outsider can see what the person involved cannot, and often what is there to be seen is the hand of God working in a truly remarkable way in their lives.
There are healings, there are divine interventions, there are extraordinary coincidences, and there are what at first seem to be terrible tragedies but which bring untold blessings in their wake. There are all sorts of things going on around us that can only be the work of God.
Let our third prayer today be: Lord, help me to see your hand at work in the world and in my life.
If we frequently say this prayer, or one like it, we will begin to realize one of the most important truths of our religion: salvation is not something only for the end of the world, salvation is a present reality.
The saving work of Christ is going on now in the present—his miracles are only the signs and indicators of it. We need to open our eyes and ears to see this great work being achieved among us and to loosen our tongues to tell the world about the glory of God that is being made manifest here and now.
Lord, unblock my ears; help me to hear what you have to say to me.
Lord, loosen my tongue so that I may bring your Good News to all I meet.
Lord, help me to see your hand at work in the world and in my life.
Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
September 6, 2015
Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Listen and Proclaim the Good News
He put his fingers into the man’s ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
This was a sign of the Messiah. Isaiah had said, in our first reading, that the eyes of the blind would be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared, the lame would leap like a stag and the tongue of the mute would sing. The people realized that Jesus was performing these signs. With a joy beyond comprehension, they realized that the Messiah was among them.
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic
Mark 7: 31–37
Jesus leaves the district of Tyre, and by way of Sidon goes into the district of the Decapolis. People beg him to cure a deaf man with a speech impediment. Jesus puts his finger into the man’s ears, touches the man’s tongue with his spittle, looks up to heaven, groans, and heals the man, saying, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) The people are astonished and say, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and [the] mute speak.”
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—
September 6, 2015
When Jesus heals a deaf, mute man, He fulfills an old prophecy in a startling, unexpected way. How?
Gospel (Read Mk 7:31-37)
St. Mark describes for us an episode that took place while Jesus was ministering in a primarily Gentile region (the Decapolis). “People brought to Him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged Him to lay His hand on him.” We don’t know if these were Jews or Gentiles, but we do know that this was an earnest intercession for a needy person. Because so much of our own prayer lives, as well as that of the whole Church, is taken up with intercessions of exactly this sort, we would do well to pay careful attention to the outcome.