The Healing of a Deaf Man
Giles Fletcher said something about Jesus, like this: “He is a path, if any be misled; He is a robe, if any naked be; If any chance to hunger, He is bread; If any be a bondman, He is free; If any be but weak, how strong is He! To deaf men life He is, to sick men health, to blind men sight, and to the needy wealthy; A pleasure without loss, a treasure without stealth.”
Jesus in today’s gospel heals a deaf-mute or a man who cannot speak and hear. I think Jesus has a hard time curing this man. It is because He takes the man away from the crowd. And then He puts His fingers into the ears, then makes spittle and touches his tongue. Then he breathes deeply and groans: “Ephphatha! Or be opened!” But actually the reasons why Jesus cures this man in this way, according to William Barclay in his commentary on this gospel text, are:
First, He takes the man away from the crowd. It is because Jesus is so considerate. The deaf-mute man is always embarrassed of his deafness. Maybe for him, it is better to be blind than to be mute and cannot hear. And so Jesus shows His most tender consideration for the man whose life, for him, is so difficult. Jesus understands His predicament.
Second, Jesus puts His hands in the man’s ears and touches his tongue with spittle. It is because in those days people believed that spittle had a curative quality. And then Jesus looks up to heaven to show that the healing comes from God especially that He is in a place where no one knows of Him. For that matter, very few had a correct knowledge of God and having heard of God’s word. As a result, they could not speak of the things of God.
In this case, Jesus is showing us, especially nowadays, that there are people who seldom hear the word of God or never heard about it. This is a great chance for each one of us. And so through our own faith and love, the kind of lives we have, even the words we speak, let us try our best to make those around us more aware of God’s word and His love for us.
Another one is, this healing has also a great connection with our Sacrament of Healing, namely: Sacrament of Penance and Anointing of the Sick. An SVD priest had beautifully discussed these two sacraments in his homily. He said that the Sacrament of Penance is biblically-based, coexisted with the Church. Jesus gave authority to His disciples to forgive sins. “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, whose sins you retain are retained (John 20:23). It is already present in the early Christian community wherein James admonished them to “confess sins to one another,” (Jas 5:16). Confession is opening up to God through His minister as His instrument of forgiveness. It is God who forgives.
Through the Anointing of the Sick the Church shares the healing ministry of Jesus. It is God who heals. Jesus Himself commanded His disciples to heal the sick through anointing with oil (Mk 6:7, 12-13). James said to the Christian community to call the priest of the Church to pray over the sick person and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord (Jas 5:14).
Like the deaf-mute, we are healed too by God according to His ways and to ours.
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