Friday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 15:29-31; Mark 7:31-37

God Does Things His Own Way

Today we take a short passage, but one which explains a great truth about God’s ways.  Matthew gives a summary version of Jesus’ healing ministry around the Sea of Galilee in the region of the Decapolis, a region where Jews lived among Gentiles.  Mark, instead, gives a singular account about a deaf man with a speech impediment.  Some people bring the man to Jesus and beg him “to lay his hand on him.”  Mark highlights how Jesus heals the man: “And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.  And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’  And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.”

I want to emphasize again that it seems that Mark purposely gives us the details of this healing.  We have seen Jesus heal from long distance on other occasions; indeed, just yesterday with the Canaanite woman, and another time with the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13).  Jesus just speaks a word and a storm is hushed.  So why so many steps with this particular healing: taking the man aside privately, placing his fingers in his ears, spitting and presumably placing his spittle on his finger when touching the man’s tongue, sighing, and telling us the very word Jesus said?  Why all this?

Well, let’s discard what we know isn’t true.  To begin, Jesus did nothing for show; “faith-healers” may do that today, but Jesus – never.  Nor did Jesus have to heal the man in this manner; we’ve already seen that.  Ultimately, I cannot say why Jesus chose to heal this particular man in this singular way.  But there is one point I would like to make.  In theology we often speak of “secondary causes or means.”  What we mean by this is that God can and does use the things He created for His own purposes, in this case, Jesus’ unique healing of this man.  But God actually uses secondary means all the time.  A weatherman can tell you all about clouds and the water cycle, and he will be correct.  He can even make fairly accurate predictions based upon his knowledge of a variety of weather-related matters.  A doctor can use medicine or some therapy to heal you.  On the other hand, God can use a storm to bring judgment on a city, or a disease to express his judgment on mans’ sin.  All of these belong to God’s sovereign and holy will.  He need not do things directly, and generally He doesn’t.  We are to see His hand in everything and seek to discern His will and way in the world through His word.  This is not easy and we must always be humble in this task.  But the point is that our God never sleeps; He does what He pleases with HIS world.

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