Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gospel for Friday, 5th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: Our Lady of Lourdes

From: Mark 7:31-37

The Curing of a Deaf Man
[31] Then He (Jesus) returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. [32]And they brought Him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought Him to lay His hand upon him. [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." [35] And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. [36] And He charged them to tell no one; but the more He charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. [37] And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well; He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."

32-33. Sacred Scripture quite often shows the laying on of hands as a gesture indicating the transfer of power or blessing (cf. Genesis 48:14ff; 2 Kings 5:11; Luke 13:13). Everyone knows that saliva can help heal minor cuts. In the language of Revelation fingers symbolized powerful Divine action (cf. Exodus 8:19; Psalm 8:4; Luke 11:20). So Jesus uses signs which suit in some way the effect He wants to achieve, though we can see from the text that the effect--the instantaneous cure of the deaf and dumb man--far exceeds the sign used.

In the miracle of the deaf and dumb man we can see a symbol of the way God acts on souls: for us to believe, God must first open our heart so we can listen to His word. Then, like the Apostles, we too can proclaim the "magnalia Dei", the mighty works of God (cf. Acts 2:11). In the Church's liturgy (cf. the hymn "Veni Creator") the Holy Spirit is compared to the finger of the right hand of God the Father ("Digitus paternae dexterae"). The Consoler produces in our souls, in the supernatural order, effects comparable to those which Christ produces in the body of the deaf and dumb man.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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