Year B, The Twenty-Third Sunday Ordinary

The Eyes and Ears of Jesus

September 10, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark 7: 31-37

Rarely, do we have a passage of Scripture that speaks to us personally as does this one today. It speaks to the very "root" of our Faith and meets us all where the "rubber meets the road," as we journey in our Faith in Christ to the time when we all stand before our Savior and Judge.

Today Jesus returns from Tyre and he journeys through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis.

This was an area of "ten cities" (Thus, "Decapolis") There would be many who would see and hear what was about to happen.

Saint Jerome tells us -- "Tyre is mystically interpreted as "narrowness", and symbolizes Judea; to who the Lord said - 'for the bed is straitened (Is. 28: 20)..."

It is of interest that it follows in that passage Jerome quotes from Isaiah 28: -

23 Give ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech.

24 Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? Does he continually open and harrow his ground?

25 When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cummin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border?

26 For he is instructed aright; his God teaches him."

It is God who desires to grow these items in the broken "ground" (Hebrew - "adama," from which mankind was named, "adam") of mankind. However, men need eyes and ears that they might see and hear!

So, Jesus will present for our eyes and ears the touch of God in our midst.

May we see and hear with spiritual eyes and ears today!

St. Jerome continues -- "He turns away to other peoples, Sidon means, "hunting". For an untamed beast is our generation; and the sea stands for our stormy inconsistency. The Savior comes to save the Gentiles in the midst of the Decapolis; which is interpreted signifying the commandments of the Decalogue. And the human race, throughout its many members, is reckoned as one man, devoured in the First Man by varying afflictions; it is blinded when it sees evil, deaf when it hears it, dumb when it speaks it. And they beseech Him, to lay his hand upon him: for many Patriarchs and just men hoped and longed for the Lord Incarnate." (St. Jerome, from 'Catena Aurea' by St. Thomas Aquinas)

32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him.

Our Community works on weekends (as an apostolate of visitation and evangelism) with those souls whose bodies are afflicted with many physical problems that make it impossible for them to attend Mass or come close to Jesus often through attending the local parishes. Many are bedridden and cannot use their legs. Some people have no arms and legs, cannot speak or hear well and their eyesight is diminished.

Therefore, we who care for them become their legs and arms, hands, eyes and ears and tongue.

Our Lord Jesus has come to us, for Jesus (as Jerome says with Exodus 8:19) is the "finger of God." Jerome says "The spittle is the divine wisdom, which unties the bond on the lips of man, so that they may say, 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty," and all the rest. Looking up to heaven he groaned, that is, He taught us to groan, and to uplift to heaven the treasures of our heart: for by the groans of our compunction the empty joy of the flesh is purified, and our ears are opened to the sound of hymns, to canticles, to the psalms. He loosens our tongue, that it may bring forth the good word; which even blows cannot silence." (Ibid.)

We in the truest sense identify completely with every other human being!

We are like those we care for.

We are like all who suffer for whom we are eyes, and ears, arms and legs and tongue!

We are graced with the Gospel of Salvation to whom the Arm of the Lord, the Finger of God has been revealed to touch our own ears and tongue that these instruments might be those that hear the Word of God and speak forth this Word to others that they might also be proclaimers, not with lips alone, but, with body, soul-spirit -the whole being for God alone!

JESUS touches this one.

33 And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue;

34 and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened."

The Word who became Flesh and Blood, the Word of God who spoke all into existence and upholds all with the Word of his power - now touches with his fingers fallen human flesh and blood, transforming this into something new - the "new creation." (II Corinthians 5:17)

Glory be to God in the highest!

35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

How marvelous this grace of God! These are graces that we wonder with awe as we hear them spoken by the Evangelist, St. Mark. Yet, there is more.

Jerome tells us - "But a city set on a hill, and seen from all sides, cannot be hid; and humility ever precedes glory. So we read:" (Ibid.)

36 And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

St. Augustine says in speaking of the awareness of Jesus that people would indeed "publish it," -- "Why did he forbid them, if not to make clear to the sluggish how much more joyfully, more fervently, they should proclaim him whom he commands to make him known, when they would not keep silent whom he forbade them to speak?" (Ibid.)

My beloved, it is we who have become the eyes and ears, tongue and arms and legs of Jesus to proclaim with him, the Word of God, the glorious message of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus! We are his instruments, his Body to take this message and the Eucharist to others who are in need, as we are all so needy!

St. Benedict in bolstering the authority of the Abbot in the Rule of Benedict uses the weighty text in St. Luke's Gospel (Luke 10:16) -- "Whoever listens to you, listens to me." Yet, it is Benedict who recognizes in humility the weakness of even an abbot or any other servant of the Lord. Therefore, in the Rule of Benedict there is the great model of the suffering servant of Isaiah with its emphasis upon mercy and compassion. (RB 64).

We are all called to be compassionate and merciful, because it was God in Christ Jesus who was compassionate and merciful to all of us!

37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."

Beloved, we are astonished over these matters of the miraculous beyond our abilities to understand!

And, rightly so, because there are illnesses and infirmities that we cannot cure or help people with... for we are weak in our understanding of these matters and science and medicine are deaf and dumb before these things to help!

But, beloved, there is a far greater work at work that God does and calls us to do in cooperation with his grace in the hearts and souls of men in true conversion. It is the conversion of a soul that is ever more astounding. , "He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."

I grow silent when I hear and see and try to speak these things.

Sometimes, as I attempt to describe these things, they become impossible for me to describe, but I can only stand in awe of God who performs these things - this greatest work, the work of Redemption and Salvation!

Is it any wonder that Mary, our Mother and his Mother, PONDERED these things in her Heart?

May we PONDER them as well and be brought to the place of service as sons of God, children of God by grace through faith in Christ Jesus - who become his eyes and ears, arms and legs and his tongue to proclaim the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world who seeks answers.

For we have this Treasure in earthen vessels.

Deus et Sanctissima.

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