Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 9 September 2012
Isaiah 35:4-7a; Psalm 146:7-10; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37
The prophet reassures God’s people that God will come close to save them. He speaks to those in the wilderness, frightened and very aware of their own frailty. The desert will be transformed by coming of the Lord, and they will be able to see and hear and do things that they could never do before. Tongues that were mute will break forth in praise and God’s people will discover abundant water in the dry places.
This was the experience of those who encountered Jesus. He came so close to the deaf mute man that he put his fingers in his ears and touched spittle to his tongue. The man was transformed, he could hear and he could speak. Everyone who saw it had to proclaim it too, even though Jesus asked them not to. They couldn’t help it – how could they be quiet when they saw such amazing things?
This is what ‘God with us’ looks like. The desert places bloom. In the words of Psalm 146, the oppressed find justice, the helpless are sustained, the hungry are fed, the blind see, the deaf hear, the stranger is protected, the wicked one is thwarted, and the captive is set free.
God’s presence is not always where we expect it to be, is it? The powerful often invoke the name of God, but God is usually on the other side of the power equation. James reminds his readers that God comes close to the needy. Christ has come close to all those who believe in him. He has opened their eyes and their ears so that they can see things as God sees them. But the temptation is always there to return to blindness, and to be deaf to God’s voice. When we start listening to the world, we begin to believe again that a wealthy person is more valuable than a poor one, that celebrity means something. When we buy into those lies, the abundant places become deserts. We still need Christ’s touch so that we can hear properly and speak aright.