As we begin another week of reflection we are called by the Scriptures to be alert in two areas, both having to do with outer manifestation but in reality, perhaps, dealing with our inner dispositions.
First lesson: Show no partiality (JAS 2:1-5). The letter of James is always direct in its teaching and never more than today as it speaks of judging people by their clothing. I remember when I was teaching high school long ago at the era when designer jeans were the bellwether for what was acceptable dress for teens. In some cases the only difference in the appearance of said clothing was the tag that named them which was sometimes not even visible! Although James is speaking more graphically here about gold rings and fine clothes, many teenagers suffered from the judgments of others simply because of their thrift store jeans and non-Nikes.
All of the other readings – Isaiah 35, Psalm 146 and the gospel of Mark, chapter 7 – speak of healing with reference to the senses. Eyes and ears being opened, speech impediments removed…wonderful healings, but if we pay attention to the entire passages, we ought to see connections between physical healing and something deeper. Through Isaiah the prophet, for example, God directs a message to those whose hearts are frightened. “Be strong, fear not!” he says. “Here is your God!…He comes to save you.” In the Psalm, the line about restored sight to the blind is followed immediately by an assurance that “the Lord raises up those who were bowed down” and “the Lord loves the just.” All this seems to be calling us to recognition of deeper healing and a belief in the God who is present in every eventuality of life, wanting to heal us, body and spirit alike.
In the gospel, there is what may seem like a throw-away line but is, I think, most important. When the people bring a deaf man to Jesus for healing, the next line says that Jesus “took him off by himself away from the crowd.” Why did he do that? And why, after the man could hear and speak plainly, did Jesus order those who had brought the man to him not to spread the news of what had happened? Interesting questions. Is there a deeper meaning that Mark was trying to get across? Perhaps Jesus was just trying to avoid the stampede of those wishing healing if the news was spread far and wide. Is there more? What do you think?