Reflection for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
My Dear Good People,
Today the Gospel brings us, through Mark 7:31-37, into the area of the Lake of Galilee. Jesus has come to preach, and a man is brought into his presence who can neither speak nor hear. It’s likely that those who brought him were his friends or his relatives. They asked Jesus simply to lay His hand upon this man who must have been living outside the society of his peers. Just to lay His hand upon him….
A prayer for an impossible favor, and they used the simplest words. What kind of trust must they have had in Jesus! How complete was their faith in Him. They saw no need to describe the man’s disability; only to ask Jesus for one gesture, a single movement of His hand. They must have been expecting a complete healing for him.
Does this move your heart to consider prayerfully the way you pray for favors? It makes me kneel down and think seriously about the way I ask Jesus for things I need, for myself or for others. Do I give Jesus a detailed explanation of the situation, A., B., C.? Do I suggest possible ways He might remedy the problem at hand? Promise Him a reward if He does it (“I’ll make a Holy Hour tonight if I get this”)? Give Him a timeline or ask a sign (“Send me a cardinal in that tree over there to show me You’ll do it, Lord”)? I do find myself acting like that sometimes and, reading this Gospel, I feel ashamed, a little, and embarrassed, a lot.
God loves a simple, uncomplicated, sincere heart, and simple, uncomplicated, sincere prayers. I want to reflect about this today, measuring my trust in Him against the trust those men of Galilee had in Jesus.
But there’s more. Jesus heard the prayer of the men and planned to grant it, but He was very concerned about the man who could not speak or hear. What was this son of Israel thinking? Was he afraid, confused, embarrassed to be the center of attention, again? Was he desperately hopeful, but unable to express it? We don’t know. But Jesus took him aside, away from the crowd. This was to be an intimate moment between Jesus and the afflicted man, not a circus attraction. While we may wonder how the Gospel writer St. Mark knew what happened, we can’t miss the fact that Jesus performed the miracle in a hidden, unforgettable way. We know that Jesus was deeply moved by this encounter, and certainly this man must have experienced profound emotion.
This short Gospel episode is filled with mystery. But then, every encounter between God and the soul is filled with mystery. God meets us where we are: when we pray, when we are in need, when we finally reveal the imperfect parts of us, to ourselves and to Him. And these mysteries are intimate moments of grace deep within the humanity of each one of us, and within the Soul of God. At the place where our compassionate God and our broken soul intersects, there is where every kind of healing happens, usually without words, without hearing a sound, but with a profound understanding. Here is where holiness washes over us from the Heart of God, bathing us in the fullness of Life, His and our own.
Simple prayer, intimate encounter. Two mysteries, but one blessed moment when we are united with God who loves us beyond telling.
Today let us, you and I, take a few minutes to consider the way we ask, and the way we receive. When we’ve done that, we will be ready for Jesus to open our ears and to give words to our silent hearts. Hear. Heart. Maybe it’s our hearts that long to be healed so we can hear the Word of God spoken in love.
God bless you with miracles this week.