September 6, 2015

The Gospel Today

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 7: 31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden D. Nuique)

9.6Jesus is a well-known miracle worker, performing signs and wonders among the people, in order to show that the Kingdom of God is among them. One of the things that is special about this account is how He takes the deaf and mute man aside to cure him and admonishes him not to tell others about the miracle. We can say that Jesus shows His disciples how indispensable humility is in ministering to other people. Ignatius of Loyola describes this in his Principle and Foundation as dynamic indifference.

Dynamic indifference is not apathy. It is not turning a blind eye to the needs of others. Dynamic indifference, in its deepest sense as described in Spiritual Freedom written by John English, SJ, is desiring poverty to riches, dishonor to honor, a short life to a long life, illness to health, and so on. For someone to live it out deeply, it is not enough to simply bear suffering or hardships when they come, it is to desire or want suffering or hardships, in so far as it helps to praise, reverence and serve God.

For someone like Jesus, who is clear about what God wants for Him and is very willing to accept the consequences of His obedience, it is easy to decide on a course of action. However, imitating Christ’s dynamic indifference can be extremely difficult for me. I immediately look for what is convenient for me or else my need to be accepted gets in the way of doing what Christ would do. It is very hard to step into the shoes of Christ, to live as He lived.

Ignatius of Loyola says that if we cannot even desire to follow Christ closely, then we should beg for the grace to desire to follow Christ. He is, after all, our namesake. We are called Christians because we have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (cf Catechism of the Catholic Church #189). We follow Christ because He Himself said that He is the way, the truth and the life (cf John 14:6).

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