Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, 9th September

Mark 7:31–37

Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of
Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had
an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He
took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his
ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed
and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears
were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered
them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they
proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything
well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”


The two
healings performed by Jesus in today’s Gospel took place in the pagan district
of Decapolis and to the daughter of a pagan woman who was a Syro-Phoenician (7:24-30). The two healings
are important in the sense that salvation is for all men and women and is not
only for the Jews.


The Jews
believe that when God took Abraham from his pagan family and elected him to be
the father of a Chosen People from whom God’s blessing would come for all
nations (Genesis 12:1-14). This is the historic beginning of salvation for
mankind. This is also a very vague generic promise. And this blessing
eventually became crystallized in the Messiah. It was he who would intoduce the
messianic age of which the prophets so often had spoken, and it was in him that
all peoples, Jews and Gentiles, would find their true blessing.


Therefore, it
was right anf fitting that Christ should proclaim his kingsom and his Gospel
among the Jews and in their promised land. Those who would accept hom and his
message would later spread the good news anong the Gentile nations. In fact,
this is what happened. Jesus’ apostles and St. Paul and other faithful
disciples having done their best for their fellow Jews first, then some of them
left Palestine and carried the good news of the Incarnation to the pagan
peoples of the then known world. It was surly from the Jews that salvation came
to us Gentiles, because we are Jews spiritually.


From today’s
Gospel, we should note that while Jesus reserved his preaching to the Jews
according to God’s plan, he visited some of the Gentile lands bordering on
Palestine – Tyre, Sidon, Phoenicia, the Decapolis – and worked some miracles
there. However, he did not preach to them.


Jesus’ going into
the pagan lands and performed healings to peoples in there are very important
events. This is because while Jesus was fulfilling the divine plan when he
restricted his preaching to the Jews, he did not ignore the faith of the people
of the places who asked for a miracle and their enthusiastic reaction to Jesus’
power when he did what they requested. Jesus was indeed interested in Gentiles
and showed his compassion for them by working miracles for them. He later gave
a command to his apostles to bring his Gospel to all nations (Mark 16:16). He
cared every human being. Today’s Gospel tells us this short episode in pagan
land in his public life in Palestine.


Being Gentiles,
we have much to thank God the Father, Christ and the good Jews who preached the
Gospel to our ancestors. God though of us from all eternity and the Incarnation
was his way of giving a truly satisfying meaning to the life of man. It has
given us a new status in life, a new purpose and an end worth every effort we
can muster to gain. Let us make full use of the divine gift of salvation by
living according to its teaching all the days of our lives. Amen.