Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B
Fr. Steven Roth

Do you know anyone that loves to window shop at the mail; checking out what’s the newest and latest? Some people can find this to be a lot of fun, but others might find this frustrating; especially if you see an item you really want but just know you will never be able to get it. In a sense, this feeling of being so close, but so far from getting, I suspect, could be how we feel in hearing not only this miracle story today, but all of the healings of Jesus. Can’t you just imagine, almost feel like you were there, as Mark describes in detail this deaf mute begging Jesus to heal him? Then to see, almost before us, in the vivid language that Mark describes, that Jesus touched this man and even used His own saliva to heal Him. Yet what about us? Why doesn’t Jesus heal us? Why doesn’t He cure the people in our lives that we know are suffering from cancer or Alzheimer’s, addictions or _____. It seems that we are so close in hearing these stories, but so far at the same time.

But do we really want to be healed like the deaf man? Before we answer, have we remembered where is this deaf man today? Dead. And the lepers He cured. Dead. And remember Lazarus? Dead. Peter’s mother-in-law? She is dead too. So either Jesus is not a good miracle worker and healer, or His mission is about something more.

That is exactly what Mark is trying to help us to understand in this miracle story. Jesus heals the man, but He then tells him, do not tell anyone. It’s almost as if Jesus was afraid of His miracles and cures; afraid they might distract people from His true Mission and purpose. To indeed be a healer, but a healer of souls so that all people will be brought back to the Father.

So indeed He is a healer, but a healer of the pains and breaks, the disease of our souls that keep us from the Father. He is a healer like none other. That is cause for great rejoicing because Jesus is the one, the great healer! He is the one spoken of in the book of Isaiah that will bring happiness and joy. He will do it!

He will do it, but not in the way we wish or hope or perhaps at times even demand. In all of Mark’s gospel, no one, not one person announced that Jesus was the Son of God in any of the miracle stories. As profound and incredible as they were, not one was moved to say Jesus is the one. He is the Son of God. He is the one we have been waiting for.

Instead, the first person in Mark’s gospel to announce this was a man who stood in the shadow of the cross. A man who stood looking upward to see not only a poor man now dead on a cross, but a man who had been executed in the most horrific way, reserved for the worst of criminals. It was a Roman centurion who said “truly this was the Son of God.”

It was the cross that brought us to the Father because it is the clearest, most obvious reality. When the world has done its worst, when from the outside, Jesus looked like an absolute failure, the Father did not abandon Him. Death was not the end. Even death could not keep this healer down.

My brothers and sisters that is the Mission of Jesus. Not some immediate fix for this life, but a permanent fix for the next; to heal our souls so that we can trust in God totally. That we can have faith in our own lives to trust and believe in God no matter what. He will not let us down. It is the stark reality of the cross, not the glamour of His miracles and healings that leads all of us to the Father.

So perhaps none of us are window shoppers with God, unless we choose to be. Instead, God invites us to buy what He has to offer. To buy the love He has for us. To buy the forgiveness and compassion that only He has to offer. The price is the same every day, our hearts. Oh great Healer, open our ears to hear You calling us and our mouths to proclaim your goodness!

St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church