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September 2, 1994     The Message
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September 2, 1994 -- Commentary u The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana III IIII Illll i li i i I ii i i i i il i III III III II II I III i Jesus turns to unclean people: Healing of a deaf man and early Christianity struggled to overcome these strange taboos. The second example Mark gives of this universal outreach is the healing of a deaf man -- and this happens outside of Judea, in Gentile or "unclean" territory. The man was from the Decapolis, a group of Greek or pagan cities bound together into some kind of political unit. The man can neither hear nor can he speak properly. Remember that Jesus is in Gentile territory about to perform a cure on a Gentile. Since Mark will end this section with the healing of a blind man, we think early Christian theology had in mind Isaiah's denunciation of his own people: "This people's heart has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing. Their eyes they have closed, in order that they may not perceive with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn to for me to heal them." Mark thus justifies Christianity's turn to another people, the Gentiles, by this scolding quote from Isaiah. We see how much can be learned by examin- ing the context into which Mark places the tradi- tions he selected about Jesus. It is always to teach some lesson for his own Church and the situation in which it finds itself. It is always to answer some question or problem the Church of Mark's time was debating. Later on in his gospel Mark will portray Jesus as saying that the gospel must be proclaimed to all nations. Mark also sees ful- Gospel commentary for Sep- Sunday,tember 4,Ordinary1994, Twenty-thirdTime, Cycle B, Mark 7:31-37. Mark began chapter seven with a story in which Jesus abol- ishes the distinction between clean and unclean foods, foods that can be eaten by a pious Jew and foods that have to be avoided. One point of the story is that this ancient dis- T ER tinction between foods in the Law of Moses does not apply to Jews or Gentiles who become Christians. In early Christianity the abolition of the observance of clean and unclean foods was connected with clean and unclean people. The Gen- tiles, a word meaning all nations except the Jews, were considered an unclean people. Mark follows with several stories of how Jesus and therefore Christianity reaches out not only to Jews but to people of every nation. In other words, before God there are no unclean people. All are ac- ceptable to him, or as Luke portrays Peter saying in the Acts of Apostles: "I see that God shows no par- tiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." So how does Mark first demonstrate this universal out- reach? Jesus grants health to a little girl at the re- quest of her mother. It just so happens in Mark's story that the person who approaches Jesus with this request is not only from an unclean people but is a woman and therefore doubly unclean because of a Woman's frequent loss of blood. The Marcan Jesus filled in the stories of the healing of both the deaf man and the blind man the words of Isaiah 35:1-6. Speaking of the wilderness and the desert about 800 B.C. Isaiah uses expressions recalling the glo- ries of northern Palestine, (where Jesus is now doing his ministry among the Gentiles 800 years later in Mark): "They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God .... The eyes of the blind shall be opened. The ears of the deaf unstopped, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy." Now we know why the man in Mark's story had a speech impedi- ment. Jesus had to fulfill Isaiah's words. We also know what Mark was teaching the peo- ple of his time. Among other things, how Jesus ful- filled the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament): that the message Jesus brought was a message of universal peace and healing, one that goes out to all nations, the equality of all people before God, re- gardless of race or gender. Note that Jesus heals a woman first, then the deaf and stuttering man. These teachings apply to our own situation. We might add that the gospel asks us to see ourselves in the man whose ears are stopped up and whose tongue can't or won't sing the praises of God in prayer. On a lighter note: how often during Mass the presiding celebrant would like to say to his un- responsive congregation the word of Jesus to the deaf man: "Ephphatha" i.e. "Be opened." Mark adds: "His tongue was released and he spoke plainly." Or shall we take it a step farther with Isaiah 35:6 for those who stand with arms folded and mouth closed? "The tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy." I I I I I I Readings: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1.5. Ill I IIII 3-4 17-18 22 29 November: 4-6 1 11-13 12 December: 2-4 -Kristine A. Harpenau, OSB Enneagram Spirituality -Bernice Kuper, SP, /(arlene Sensmeier, OSB, and Jeanne Knoerle, SP Come To The Center: Centering Prayer Day -Kristine A. Harpenau, OSB The Inner Quest For Self Discovery -Gerry Boylan 9-10 Advent Centering Prayer Retreat i  -Kristine A. Harpenau, OSB, w,(1 team I [ Kordes also offers Elderhostei programming I I L_.__ and Confirmation retreats. [ ore reformation call 800-880-2777, extension 2907 j 24 Uctober: 1 & 4 -Joseph F. Martin, FIC Introduction To Centering Prayer Retreat/Workshop -Kristine A. Harpenau, OSB Holistic Directed Retreat -Kristine A. Harpenau, OSB, and team Mary: Model For Christians -Marie Kevin Tighe, SP Come To The Quiet: Times Of Transition -Bernice Kuper, SP Spirituality In The Workplace -Marie Kevin Tighe, SP Ministering To The Minister -Reverend Stephen P. Lintzenich and Louise Bond, SNJM Introduction To Centering Prayer Workshop -Kristine A. Harpenau, OSB Introduction To Massage -Laura Hubbell and Sandra Schneider Spirituality And Imagination -Frances Belmonte Come To The Quiet: With Heartfelt Thanks INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS PARTS DESIGN, INSTALLATION, TRAINING & REPAIR ON LOCAL & WIDE AREA NETWORKS LANTASTIC - NOVELL UNIX- ZENIX 812-425-1100 2121 NORTH BEDFORD AVENUE EVANSVILLE, IN 47711 SERVING THE TRI-STATE SINCE 1977 I i II I Ed. L. Lee Mortuary 101 North Meridian Street Washington, IN 254-3612 II I I IIIII I IIIII I  P_eop.les ! rust Company SOUTH MA|N STREET P.O. BOX 191 UNTON, INDIANA 4744" I INSURANCE AGENCY 464-5993 DENNIS K. FELDHAUS JAMES K NIEMEIER Mater Dei Class of '70 GEORGE P. 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