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Christ Is Healer
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
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 him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”–that is, “Be opened!”–And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Opening Prayer: Good Jesus, I come to spend these moments of prayer with you. Open my ears to hear your word and remove whatever impediments may keep me from hearing you and sharing your word.
- They Begged Him: The man in today’s Gospel, being unable to hear or speak properly, was blessed to have been surrounded by a family or a community that cared for him. Mark tells us they brought him to Jesus and begged him to lay his hands upon him—they who must have been his ears and mouth throughout his life. Who among us, in our families, friends, even more distant connections, does not have people whom we know are in need of God’s grace and healing? In these moments of prayer, we can bring them before Jesus and beg him to lay his hands on them. Jesus knows their needs far better than we do. This is one of the truest expressions of being one family, one body, in Christ.
- Alone before God: Perhaps being so surrounded by caretakers from his community, this man had little time to himself. But on this day, he found himself taken away from the crowd and alone before Jesus. No extra support, no one to translate for him or speak for him—this day he was alone before the One who made him and who had the power to make him new. Sometimes God brings his children into a place of solitude before him, so that nothing may get in the way of the work he wishes to do. It is a place that makes sense only if we keep our gaze fixed upon Christ, as this man surely did.
- God Works through Reality: “He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue,” Mark recounts. This is probably the eyewitness testimony of Peter, as is most of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus’s actions, at once so human and yet also divine, recall God’s molding of Adam from the dust of the earth and Eve from Adam’s rib. His actions are significant for our Catholic faith—expressions of the sacramentality of God’s action among us. While he later would establish the seven sacraments, here Jesus reminds us of the goodness of the created world and that God works precisely through it to bring about his plan for us. God works for our good through this reality, not in some abstract stratosphere. Supernatural grace imbues our life and our world, and it is here that God draws us into the fullness of life in him.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, just as this crowd brought this sick man to you, I bring before you specific requests for healing and grace in my own life and in the lives of others. In faith, I ask you to grant all of us what we need. I also ask you to pull me out of the crowd, away from the noise of my worries, distractions, work, or even the lies that the enemy whispers to my heart. Heal my deafness of heart and clear out the impediments which keep me from you. Show me how you are working and making yourself present through the daily reality of my life. I wish to find you here, and here to be found by you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will dedicate some time to intercessory prayer for specific intentions.
For Further Reflection: Reflect upon 1 Corinthians 12, where St. Paul speaks about the one body of the Church having many parts.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.