Like every other nation that was languishing under oppressors, the people of God are presented as experiencing hardships, in need of their God’s intervention. For that reason, the prophet Isaiah in the same spirit of the book of consolation (Isaiah 40-55), proclaims the Lord’s glory in Israel’s liberation. Here, he proclaims beforehand, the new Exodus for the oppressive people of God, which will bring them blessedness. In this beatitude of Israel, the desert and the parched land will exalt; the steppe will rejoice and bloom, with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will reflect the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of our God. Those will be the good news that will strengthen the hands that are feeble, and make firm the knees that are weak. The prophetic good news, is given to those whose hearts are frightened, asking them to be strong and fear not, because their God is present to vindicate them, with divine recompense and to save them. The messianic signs will follow in which the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared. The lame, as well, will leap like a stag, the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, becoming rivers in the steppe, turning burning sands into pools, and thirsty ground into spring of water. The habitation of the jackals will become a marsh for the reed and papyrus (Isaiah 35:4-7).
What the prophet Isaiah describes here are signs of the new exodus for the people of God, which God has now brought about through Christ-event of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we recall, when John the Baptist in prison heard about the things Jesus was doing, he sent his disciples to ascertain from Jesus whether he was the expected messiah, or if they were to look for another. In his response to John, Jesus asked his disciples to go and tell him what they had seen and heard, namely that the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them (Matthew 11:2-5; Luke 7:22).
Through the answer sent back to John through his disciples, Jesus confirms his divine and messianic mission, in which in his ministry of healing and proclamation of the kingdom of God, he is already carrying out the new exodus. He will completely accomplish it by his passion, cross, death and resurrection. He now, entrust this ministry to be continued in the holy Church through the sacraments.
He now heals us by means of the sacraments of the holy church, which is his mystical body. In our stubbornness, we are like the deaf and dumb man, he heals today in our gospel reading. St. Mark tells us that after returning back to Galilee from the district of Tyre, they brought to him a deaf and dumb man, who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hands on him. Jesus took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into his ears and spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said ’Ephphatha!’ The man became wholesome (Mark 7:31-37). This is a sacramental sign through which Jesus healed the man. In the same way, he wants us to come and be healed with strong faith. That is why he enjoined messianic secrecy after this healing.
By messianic secrecy, he does not want us to see him as a superman or magician. He wants us to come to him by faith. We must live the life of faith at all times. That is why St. James dedicated much time instructing us on this theological virtue. Our faith, hope and charity must be bound together, lived out with our lives. It must be expressed in our relationships and moral life. Today, St. James tells us that our faith in Our Lord, Jesus Christ must not allow any kind of favoritism. By this we must love and accept each person God has placed on our way (James 2:1-5). May we too experience the powerful love of God, drawing us through his Son, Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen