Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 35: 4-7a; James 2: 1-5; Mark 7: 31-37
This unorthodox healing story is unique to Mark’s gospel. The crowd makes the request of healing from Jesus, one of the few stories in which that happens. They challenge Jesus to lay his hand on him and heal him.
Jesus does restore hearing and speech to the deaf man. However, He didn't just pat him on the head, as he was asked to do. Instead, Jesus restored his hearing, enabling him to know what was going on; and he gave him a voice with which to make himself heard. He brought him from beyond the margins into society. Notice Jesus’ very human touch: he took the deaf man aside from the crowd. Then rather than speaking, Jesus seemed to act out the healing.
This man came to know the tenderness of God in Jesus’ kind and sensitive treatment. Jesus was very attuned to those on the margins, those who felt less in any way, as he responded to the needs of his day. Jesus promised to come with healing and blessings, especially to those who were in any way prevented from living life to the fullest. His many healing miracles attest to that stance.
How do we respond to those on the margins of society? Do we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear? Do we invite the “other” into our circles of inclusion? Do we open ourselves to the needs of our sisters and brothers who are struggling and in need?
Pope Francis reminds us: “it is precisely the heart, that is, the deep core of the person, that Jesus came to ‘open’, to free, in order to make us capable of fully living the relationship with God and with others.” (Angelus, “Be Opened”, Sept. 9, 20218)
As we attempt to open our hearts and be present to those most in need, we pray in the words of Anne Osdieck:
open our ears
so that we can hear you
pleading of the poor,
the cry of the environment,
Open our ears
so we can hear you…
Sr. Mary Ann Collins, OP