Caught with His Compassion Down – Friday 5th week in ordinary time – Mark 7:31-37

As Gospel stories go, this one is odd. We are told that Jesus is in Tyre, of all places, so distant from rural Galilee in terms of mileage as well as culture. Why is he apparently alone and seeking to elude everyone’s notice? (verse 24) Yet he was found by the Syrophoenician woman. (verse25) Now having healed the woman’s daughter of a demon he is on the move again, like a shepherd searching for his stray sheep. All he wants is to heal.

Today’s Gospel is another incidence of Jesus caring for those who are suffering from sicknesses and disabilities of one kind or another. ‘They brought to him a deaf man.’ They bring him a man and ask Jesus to lay a hand on him; they did not explicitly as for a cure. We too can often bring others to God’s attention, asking that they may be healed, and that is good. Perhaps we also need to allow others to bring us before God? Do I ask others to pray for me?

Jesus shows great care and sensitivity in his encounter with this deaf man. Deaf persons often say they feel cut off from life and that they are forced to live in a world of their own. Jesus opens out his world again. This man is doubly afflicted – being a foreigner he suffers isolation and is also excluded by his physical impairment. Jesus was distressed at the suffering of this man. Jesus cares in his heart. Religion is about the ordinary, caring about simple truths and actions. The gospel of Jesus doesn’t fudge that issue.

Nobody is excluded from the healing touch of God. Jesus’ action initiates a new age. He doesn’t heal from a distance. He comes close enough to touch us, one by one. Jesus does not see his healing powers as proofs of his divinity, but rather as signs that the God of mercy and goodness is close to us. He heals because he is moved with compassion. He indeed does all things well.

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