There is a glaring similarity between the words of prophet Isaiah in the 1st reading (Isaiah 35: 4-7) and the deeds of Jesus in the gospel according Mark 7: 31-37. In the 1st reading, the words of Isaiah echoes a wonderful vision of a God who looks out for those who are frightened and the weak. It talks about a God who vindicates, cares and loves every one of us, and a God whose redemptive healing is well spelt out in the good health and well-being of humanity. This notion of God as a bringer of peace and a saving judge is not entirely unique to the book of Isaiah, because Israel at that time was continuously oppressed by Babylon. The liberation Isaiah was talking about in the 1st reading is the liberation of the human spirit that only makes more sense through the eyes of faith and hope in God. Perhaps, Isaiah means to give the Israelites the hope that the lame, the blind and the deaf of their society would soon be made whole to render praise and thanks once again to God.
In the same way, the gospel of this 23rd Sunday recognises that Jesus is doing what the prophet Isaiah foretold in the first reading. Here, the gospel of Mark records how a deaf man who had a speech impediment has been brought to Jesus and He healed him. “The deaf man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed and he spoke plainly.” The story in this week’s gospel recorded only in Mark, calls to mind Isaiah’s promise in the 1st reading; that God will make the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. The highpoint of this gospel is what the people said at the end; “He has done all things well.” Now, what Jesus has done for the deaf and dumb He wants to do for us; opening our ears to hear God’s words and loosening our tongues to sing His praise. In Jesus, Mark’s gospel shows us that God has truly come in the flesh. He has come to make all things new. He has come so that the rich and the poor may dine in the Eucharistic feast of God’s kingdom as James tells us in the second reading. He has come so that our weak faith may grow. He has come and opened our eyes to sing His praise. He has done for each of us what He did for that deaf mute. Let us continuously in the Eucharist give praise to God for His gift of Jesus to us. Let us say with Isaiah; “Here is our God, He comes to save us.”
Humphrey C. Obasi