The miracle that Jesus performs for the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment is more than a miracle story. There is a teaching that Mark is imparting. Though the man was cured of these physical hindrances, Mark is offering a deeper message.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. Our ever faithful God, as Isaiah records, will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf; the lame will leap like a stag and the tongue of the mute will sing. Jesus is God acting in our midst.
We can take this further by associating this story to the Sacrament of Baptism. In the old Rite of Baptism the priest would touch the ears of the one being baptized, as Mark describes Jesus doing. In Baptism we receive the gift of the Spirit and are incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church. Is Mark telling us that as followers of Christ we are to keep our ears open to hear the Word of God and our tongue loosened to speak about Christ to others? In baptism we are committed to the way of Christ. This commitment entails a growing openness to hear what Jesus says to us and a growing ability to share our faith with others.
Like the people in the Gospel story and the disciples at Pentecost, if our being a Christian is truly a deep experience of listening to God’s presence in our midst, noticing all that God does in the world around us, we too could not keep ourselves from letting other people know. Do we recognize the voice of God calling to us in the many changing situations, both good and bad, that happen to us, to our family, to our society?
Did we hear the message from today’s second reading? Do we judge people by externals? Do we treat some people as important and ignore others who are lower on the social ladder? Do we discriminate in other areas, like religion, race, sex, occupation? What is our attitude to wealth and poverty and how do my actions compare with the way Christ acted?
We pray that our ears remain open to hearing the voice of God calling to us in everything that happens to us. We pray for the gift of speech that we simply cannot refrain from sharing the Good News with those around us.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., resides in Chicago.