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ISAIAH 35:4-7

PSALM 146:6-10

JAMES 2:1-5

MARK 7:31-37

Today's Gospel reading ends by pointing out that Jesus charged the people who witnessed the healing of the man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech not to tell anyone about the healing, but did they follow this order from Jesus? They did not follow this order but they zealously proclaimed the healing.

Why does Jesus want this healing kept secret to the point of repeatedly charging them not to proclaim it? If Jesus repeatedly charged them not to proclaim the healing, it implies that he was very serious on the issue of this healing being kept a secret. If Jesus wants the healing to be a secret, he may appear to be contradicting his purpose of doing it which was all about bringing the Good News.

The healing of this man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech was Good News. Do people keep silent about good things?

Imagine this man has been deaf for a considerable time and has struggled to speak clearly and Jesus tells him and others to keep silent. How possible is it yet people in his community will notice the changes in him? What will he tell people when they ask him about these changes? Imagine buying a car for the first time remembering you used to walk from one place to another, will you drive this car in secret so that people do not know you own it? How is it possible?

If Jesus wants this healing to be kept a secret, he may appear to be contradicting the voice of God during his baptism. After the baptism of Jesus, a voice came from heaven saying, " You are my dear son. I am pleased with you. " These words of God mean that God will be pleased with all that Jesus will do and say and this includes the healing of this man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech.

If God was pleased with the good actions of Jesus, why would Jesus not want these good actions to be talked about?

Some things in life cannot be kept as secrets, they have to be known and celebrated. Take the examples of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son mentioned in Luke 15, the woman who lost the coin, the

man who lost the sheep and the merciful father of the prodigal son, all of them publicly announced and celebrated the discovery and return of what was missing.

It is important to know that the Gospel of Mark is centred on the rejection, suffering and death of Jesus which were highly misunderstood because the people expected a temporal Messiah who would bring political and material prosperity. If Jesus was to allow people to talk about him, he would have aroused false expectations since this was not the kind of Messiah his Father had sent him to be. Instead, people had to come to faith in Jesus as he was not as they wanted him to be.

If Jesus tells the people not to talk about the healing of the man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, it is because he does not want to be misunderstood as a political and economic messiah.

He wants people to individually have a conversation with themselves and to give some time to themselves individually to understand the meaning of the healing and live according to it and not to get lost in the wonder and excitement of the moment. Jesus wants the people present to individually open their ears to the Word of God and to take an individual stance in the reversal one is hoping for.

Why is it that after this healing episode which the people publicly spoke about we are told in Mark 8 that another large crowd came together to Jesus? It is because they heard what Jesus did and wonder, " If he can heal the deaf and the dumb what more can he do? " And we are told that Jesus fed them. Why is it that after healing the man who was deaf and dumb, the Pharisees ask Jesus to perform a miracle to show that God had approved of him and Jesus declines?

Do you see why Jesus wanted this healing to be a secret?

In life, we normally have perceptions about people based on what we hear them say and on what we see them do. When we relate with people, do we correctly understand and realize the meaning of what they say and do and why they want a secret not revealed at a particular moment?

From this Gospel passage, we learn that revealing secrets may give you an unnecessary identity and wrong expectations. The way people know you, understand you and see you is not an instant thing but something that requires discernment and opening and to is proclaimed not just in excitement of the moment but in truth, silence and faith progressively.

The main purpose of secrets is to preserve and protect one's honour and reputation. The honour of Jesus was at stake if he could have been known as the Messiah before getting his real and befitting honour on the cross.

Why do people keep secrets? When is the right time to reveal a secret? Can a secret revealed make people misunderstand you or test you or expect much from you or put you in an awkward situation? In our secrets and in the secrets of others, may God strengthen our faith, open our ears to listen to God's Word and touch our tongues to proclaim God's greatness in the right way.


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