Gospel Reflections

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 7:31-37

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Janelle Sevier

Published: September 09, 2018

Read Mark 7:31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to... Read More…

Have you ever felt like the man in today’s gospel reading …unable to speak well, unable to hear well? Have you ever wondered: “What is it that God is saying to me now, and how should I respond?”  Have you ever responded to someone and then thought, “I don’t think they got what I meant…”

If so, you can begin to understand the feelings with which this gospel, and the first reading from Isaiah, abounds. It is no wonder that Isaiah speaks of and “to those [of us] whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God… who comes to save you.” We are all sometimes blind and deaf, sometimes lame, mute or thirsty.  Like the man in the gospel we sometimes struggle with hearing and speaking.   One thing which strikes me with Jesus’ action in today’s gospel, is the sheer physicality of it all. This is no God who stands apart without ever being a part of the action. In fact, what we see throughout the gospels, is that whenever Jesus meets the person face to face, he touches and soothes, uses mud and spittle, embraces and, in any way needed, brings people to greater wholeness. 

Today’s miracle is no exception. Off in “the Decapolis,” the local community brings a man to Jesus because of a speech impediment. Jesus takes the man aside, away from the crowd and its clamoring for something fantastic, and touches the man’s ears, uses his own saliva to touch the man’s tongue, and groans:“Ephphatha!  Be opened!” With that his ears are opened, his speech impediment is removed, and he speaks plainly.

That is the second thing which really stands out: once the man is able to hear, then he is able to speak. And so it is with me, and perhaps you as well: once I listen well and feel somewhat sure of what God is saying to me, then I am able to speak (respond) more clearly. 

Be opened. Indeed, that is a prayer I want prayed over me! I want to be able to hear and to listen well… and especially in those times when I am “off in the Decapolis” sections of my life and ministry. Places where I feel somewhat lost and unable to navigate, places where I am often willing to blend the good with the not-so-good in order to “fit in.” It is only when I truly hear that I will know how to respond in union with all that I most deeply desire. 

Beautiful human physicality and deep listening to a God who speaks in everyday life:  that sounds just like what Jesus was all about to me. To those of us who have ears: let us listen!



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