23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

REAL LABOUR = REAL HEALING

By: Leanna Cappiello

I wonder what it must have been like to bear first-hand witness to the miracles of Jesus. Imagine seeing a mute man speak and a blind man see, simply by a touch and a whisper. I can hardly blame them for being “zealous” in proclaiming such a miracle!

And yet Jesus orders the witnesses to keep what they saw to themselves. Why? Shouldn’t this be broadcasted? Perhaps Jesus knew that the witnesses would put too much emphasis on the physical healing and neglect the dimension of the spiritual transformation of this man.

This is not to say that we should ignore physical healings and miracles. As we discussed in our Bread of Life discourse, Jesus gives us exactly what we need, and for this man, it could have been his speech and hearing abilities. But there is more going on here.

Upon close reading of this passage in Mark’s gospel, I noticed unbearable grit to Jesus’ healing methods. He puts his fingers in the man’s ears and spits on his hand and places it on his tongue. This method demonstrates a robust, human approach to healing. In a way, I can see that this represents the intense effort that goes into any sort of transformation. Think of recovery from addiction, apologies and forgiveness, surgeries, mourning the loss of a loved one, the birth of a child… these things take real effort and labour, (and the process is often ugly). Jesus doesn’t simply wave his hand to heal from afar to demonstrate his divinity; he touches the man in an alarmingly visceral way to show his humanity. Both dimensions are key in healing.

When Jesus whispers, “Be opened”, he doesn’t just mean the eyes and ears of this man, but also his awareness to the spiritual realities. This is to say that we need the physical to remind us of the spiritual. There are many dimensions to healings, and these two go hand in hand. Jesus isn’t there to “fix” us, he is there to awakens us.