The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle B of the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time is Mark 7:31-37. 

Continuing His travels through predominately Gentile territory, Christ returns to the area of Decapolis (“Ten cities”), the place where He healed the demonic (Mark 5:17); the former demoniac has perhaps continued to make Christ’s miracles known. A crowd forms around Christ and a man who is both deaf and has a speech impediment is brought forward; hoping for a miracle, the people beg for Christ to simply lay His hands on the deaf-mute man.  

Rather than heal the man in front of the crowd with a simple word or touch, Christ takes the man aside in private and takes multiple deliberate steps, perhaps to help the man adjust to and accept the miraculous healing: Christ puts His fingers in the man’s ears, spits on His finger (saliva was thought to have healing power), touches the man’s tongue with His saliva, looks to Heaven, groans and shouts, “Be opened!” (Aramaic, Ephphatha). The formerly deaf-mute immediately is able to clearly speak despite having never heard a spoken word in his life. 

In a strange twist, the man who has lived in silence and unable to speak has been healed but is now commanded by Christ to remain silent about the miracle; Christ may desire to help the newly-healed man avoid becoming a curiosity. But family and friends who have shared the suffering of the man who communicated with signs and garbled noises,  are astounded and can not keep quiet as Christ requested. Word spreads and Christ’s reputation grows as one who fulfills prophecy (Isa 35:5-6): “He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.” 

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ seeks to redeem all men, Jew and Gentile alike. Divine Physician, Christ miraculously allows the deaf-mute man to both hear and speak, despite never having heard the spoken word; Christ also customizes His healing process to serve the needs of individuals.  

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Even with modern medicine is rare to cure deafness and improving a speech impediment is slow, therapy-intensive process. Marvel at how Christ  instantaneously cures the man’s deafness and gives him the power to speak, despite having never heard the spoken word. 

2) Christ comes to men in the Incarnation and offers many signs and symbols which are observable; Christ’s heals the deaf-mute with physical actions which still cause men to marvel. The celebration of the Christian mystery in the Liturgy is a God-given and engages all a man’s senses. Review How the Liturgy is Celebrated (CCC 1145-1162) and pray for Christ to help you grow in awe of the Liturgy.  

3) Imagine the gift of being able to express yourself after a lifetime of being deaf and mute. The precious gift of speech is a source of great sin in a world of divisive speech, political correctness to the point of dishonesty and the attacks of anonymous trolls on all types of “social” media. Consider the Church’s profound teaching on Truth (CCC 2464-2513) and pray for Christ to help you to charitably use the gift of speech.