By Elizabeth Baumann
A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 7:24-37
24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go — the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
In both the stories we’re told today, Jesus is trying to hide. First, leaving the Jewish regions to enter a house where he insists no one be told he is (and everyone finds out anyway), and then taking aside privately a man brought to him for healing to cure him and tell him not to tell anyone (which he then does all the louder). It’s almost comedic: the light of the world tried to go unnoticed in an ordinary house.
So what was Jesus thinking? He didn’t really expect that people wouldn’t notice the plethora of miraculous cures that followed him everywhere. He couldn’t have really thought no one would notice a conspicuous group of Galilean fishermen walking all the way over to Tyre and Sidon, especially not among the rumors that proceeded him everywhere he went, the itinerant Jewish preacher who drew such enormous crowds. Yet he did these things: He insisted no one be told where he was (and welcomed them when they came). He asked a deaf man not to tell anyone how he came to hear (along with the people who saw it happen). Fat chance, Lord.
I can’t really guess at what Jesus was thinking. But I can’t help noticing he does the same thing with us. He hides in plain sight. He says, “Seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened” — but he doesn’t just show himself, or burst open the door upon us. He waits, loverlike, for us to come find him. Even though he’s everywhere, he lets us discover him in particular places.
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Kobe – The Nippon Sei Ko Kai
Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, Texas