February 13, 2015

Gospel MK 7:31-37
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.”
Theologian William Barclay makes two important observations about today’s gospel reading.
Before healing the deaf mute, Jesus “took him off by himself” and then “he looked up to heaven.”
There are important lessons for all of us in these two seemingly small gestures by Jesus.
First, in our enthusiasm to be of service to others, we should always do so with an awareness of maintaining the privacy and dignity of those we’re trying to help.
Second, rather than depending solely on our own ability, we too should look to God.
This gospel reminds me of an instance some thirty years ago when I first got sober. I was “down and out” financially, struggling just to put gas in my car so I could search for work.
My brother Smokey, fifteen years sober at the time, pulled me aside at a family gathering. He said, “Let’s take a walk kid.”
Along the way, he told me to trust in God and life would get better. Then, slipping his hand in my jacket pocket, he said, “This isn’t a gift Jim. Pay it forward when you get on your feet.”
Later, when I was alone, tears came to my eyes as I counted out two hundred dollars.
Smokey probably never read today’s gospel, but without a doubt the tenderness and generosity of Christ resided in his heart.
From his life experience Smokey had learned that the only value of one’s pain is the extent to which it gives us compassion for those who suffer.
Though he never got rich, Smokey died a happy, much loved man. His wealth could be measured in the multitude of people he helped in his life.
Jesus tells us, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:38