In the readings for this 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time, Jesus’ healing of a man who is deaf and mute is a clear fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading. On one level, Jesus is telling the people by his actions that he is the promised Messiah.
Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. (Isaiah 35)
Jesus is the Son of God who comes with divine healing to save us. His power is absolute, commanding the elements of creation as well as evil spirits. His ability to cure physical illness is an outward manifestation of his deeper desire to heal the wound that separates the human person from the living God; to restore what was lost through the sin of Adam. He is the Savior of the world.
Jesus healing the man who is deaf and mute is a telling story of the dignity of every human person. The physical touch of Jesus reminds us of the importance of our own human encounters, particularly with those who are sick or hungry or lacking any of the basic necessities of life. Physical, concrete expressions of compassion and love are necessary, and there are plenty of opportunities in our world today to recognize Christ in the sufferings of many. One clear example today are the thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Thanks be to God Hungary, Austria and Germany have opened not only their hearts, but their borders to receive them.
There is a significance in this particular healing that restores the ability to ‘hear’ and to ‘speak.’ For every person, what brings greater delight than to hear God’s Word? What greater contentment is expressed than to sing God’s praise? In the person of Jesus, our God comes to save us.
In her commentary on The Gospel of Mark, Mary Healy makes a beautiful connection regarding the place of this healing. The Decapolis is the land of gentiles. In a previous visit to this territory, Jesus heals a man possessed by Legion of demons. After casting out these many demons, the people of the Decapolis beg Jesus to leave the district. (Mark 5)
Now, Jesus returns to the Decapolis some time later and finds a warm welcome from the same people. What has changed? Mary Healy suggests that the man who had been freed from the possession of Legion became such an effective evangelizer that many came to believe in Jesus. Indeed, the final verse of this account in Mark predicts as much: “Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.” (Mark 5:20)
This is the proper use of every believers’ voice. We are to proclaim to others what Jesus has done for us. We can remain deaf no longer to the spirit and life provided us by the Living Word of God. We can remain silent no longer in the world that longs to hear of the great deeds our God has done for us through the person of Jesus Christ.0