Gospel Reflection – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – Mark 7:31-37

Today’s Gospel sees Jesus heal a man who could not speak and it ends with the words: ‘Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said, “he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”’

The Gospels are an opportunity to revise ourselves through the lens of Christ’s earthly ministry.

There is an old monastic prayer practice called Lectio Divina, in which the individual listens in silence to the Word of God and responds with a full heart, listening especially for the movement of the Spirit in certain lines of text that can jump out at the reader. We could, for example, see the last line of today’s Gospel, and we can wonder whether our own admiration for Jesus remains unbounded. For them, it was new. For us, we can lose the miraculous wonder of Jesus simply because we know the Bible stories; they can become normalized.

But there is nothing normal in Christ’s ministry. His healing of this man was a sign to all who saw it, all who heard about it, that the Messiah is present in Jesus. They saw this miracle and were witnesses to it. And, by being witnesses, they were part of the story.

We, too, are part of the story; we are witnesses to the light. Approaching the Gospels is an opportunity to renew our witness and to re-dedicate ourselves to following Christ Jesus.

The Gospels are our own journey, albeit seen through an ancient lens. But we have new challenges. One such challenge is to keep our wonder and devotion to God alive, and we can do this with the prayer of Lectio Divina.

Jesus is with us and he is performing miracles. Today, at Mass, for example, through the action of the priest, we meet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament – a real and true meeting with Christ our Lord, a deep and meaningful taking-in of his body and blood. But we are at risk of forgetting the miraculous nature of this meeting place. We meet him too in the Gospels, but we risk not seeing the message he is trying to give us through those holy words. And, as he says elsewhere in Scripture, we meet him in the least of our brothers and sisters, yet we risk not recognizing him because we are to bound up with our own affairs.

Some people might see these things as extra effort in life; unnecessary effort. But they are meeting places and they are miraculous. The miracle of Christ in the Host and in the Chalice, the miracle of Christ in the words we read in Scripture, and the miracle of Christ in those around us: these are modern day miracles that are open signs to us all of the love and mercy of God.

How are we going to keep unbounded admiration to God along the way of faith? The starting place is to learn to listen. Listen to Scripture, to the words at Mass, to those around us who talk to us. There are miracles in all of those things. And what, afterall, are miracles if not signs? Yes, we should listen to the signs that God is making for us.

It is only once we learn to listen that we then begin to formulate our response. It cannot be the other way around. Only once we learn to listen attentively with the ear of our heart do we find ourselves living a better Gospel life in Jesus. Listening is the starting place.

We are surrounded by miracles, by signs from God. Let us keep these things as miraculous, even if tempted to see them as normal and regular occurrences. And let us listen to what he is saying to us within our everyday lives.


The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark  7:31-37
Glory to you, O Lord.

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha,‘ that is, ‘Be opened.‘ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said, ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.