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Increase My Faith
Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
Again he 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: Lord Jesus, increase my faith in your presence and action in the world.
- A Deeper Invitation to Faith: Jesus traveled once again to the Decapolis, to Gentile territory where people had caught wind of his healing power. Faith was alive among the people and one man begged Jesus to lay his hands on him. Jesus’s love is personal and his action is sincere. He took this man away from the crowd so as not to attract attention. Jesus wants to heal, but he always seeks to offer more than mere physical healing. He wants to help everyone’s faith in him increase. The people of those days believed in the healing property of saliva. When Jesus used saliva he was communicating that they would all soon be healed. “Be opened!” he said. Behind his command for the man’s ears to be opened was an invitation for the blind man’s heart to be opened to faith in Jesus Christ.
- Recognizing God’s Salvific Action: All healing that the Lord works in our lives, be it physical, emotional, or psychological, is oriented towards the deepest healing–salvation. Can we recognize God’s presence and action in the world? In our own lives? Among our friends and family members? Let’s ask for an increase of faith to recognize God’s salvific action at work in the depths of our hearts by repeating with the psalmist, “Praise him for his mighty deeds; Praise him according to his excellent greatness” (Psalms 150:2).
- Declare the Works of the Lord: Jesus told the man to keep quiet. Perhaps knowing that his time had not yet come, Jesus did not wish to draw attention to himself. Or he was remaining focused on his mission to the lost sheep of Israel and did not wish to draw the attention of the Gentiles. Whatever the reason, the witnesses did not heed his command. They were astonished. Their sharing of the good deeds Jesus worked among them was a proclamation of the Gospel among the Gentiles. In the words of the psalmist, they were telling “his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his marvelous deeds” (Psalms 96:3). It was already foreshadowing Jesus’s words to the apostles, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). But would they understand the entirety of the salvific message that Jesus’s healing brings in the context of God’s universal salvific plan? Or would they focus only on the external elements, seeing Jesus as a mere wonder worker? In our own lives, let’s not be short-sighted, missing God’s marvelous works of salvation in the daily circumstances of our lives.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I trust in you. Increase my faith and trust that you are present and active through all circumstances in my life. Help me to proclaim the good news that I witness daily, even in the strength of faith when challenges come.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of trust that your plan is at work in all things.
For Further Reflection: On the Obedience of Faith, https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2016/12/18/the-obedience-of-faith/.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala.