Today’s Gospel relates the healing of a man who is both deaf and mute. By healing him Jesus opens the man’s ears and mouth so that he might hear and proclaim the Good News. Before that can happen, however, Jesus and the man have a private meeting. Since Jesus is traveling in Gentile territory, it is likely the man who is healed is also a Gentile.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
“[Jesus] took him off by himself away from the crowd.”
In Jesus’ day it was inconceivable for a Jew to talk to, let alone touch, a non-Jew, yet Jesus does this. He goes further. Jesus draws the man away from the crowd. This isn’t a case of Jesus hiding what he is about to do for fear of what his fellow Jews might think of him. Instead Jesus places all the man’s needs to the forefront in order to minister to him in a personal way. If they had stayed with the crowd the sensational healing would be seen, but the subtly nuanced essential might be missed.
What is essential here? Is it that the man is physically healed, or is it the message that God in Jesus yearns to heal the man’s most profound wounds in a personal way? Hearing and proclaiming the Good News is not possible without this kind of personal encounter with the Lord. By extension we also are invited to the same. We pray with Scripture because of the way Jesus draws us apart from the crowd, from the hustle and bustle of our overloaded lives. In many Gospel accounts we read how Jesus pulls a person away from the crowd. Does that not point to the sacredness of being alone with God? Will all our problems go away, will we be immediately healed of physical infirmities because of our private moments with Jesus? Perhaps not. But the authentic encounter with God results in his grace being poured out in us, thus enabling us to hear and proclaim the Good News.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of Ordinary Time in: Ordinary Grace Weeks 18-34