In this gospel Jesus opens the ears and loosens the tongue of the deaf-mute. Both he and the crowd cannot contain themselves, but proclaim what Jesus has done. What has Jesus really done? Healed the man? Yes, but more. Jesus has revealed that he is far more than a miracle worker, as fascinating and wonderful as that may be. Understood only as an external sign, however, the miracle falls short of the reality. The miracles Jesus performs reveal his own divine power, his own compassion for the human condition, his own mission. Jesus cares for each of us, cares enough to reach out and touch us! What must be proclaimed is not the sign itself, but that to which it points: God’s Presence bringing salvation.
Faced with this revelation, no one can keep silent. The Word grants the power of word.
We surmise that something very profound must have happened between Jesus and the deaf man even before the miracle that brought the deaf and mute man to an intensified insight about Jesus. Jesus must have communicated something to him that resonated deep within the man’s very being and changed him. This is why he could not help but proclaim the miracle—his encounter with Jesus changed him. He was able to see beyond the miracle to the wholeness (salvation) Jesus offered him.
The crowd recognized that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (see first reading) when they say, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Jesus’ miracle points beyond himself as a miracle worker to himself as the One who has come to save us. The miracles are a sign of salvation—God’s new Life is breaking in on humanity and changing who we are and giving us a whole new insight into our relationship with God. We now see God’s mighty deeds, know Jesus is our savior, and proclaim God’s salvation. This Good News cannot be contained.
Jesus is very personal with the man he heals: he touches his ears and tongue; he prays to his Father (“looked up to heaven”) with a groan, as if his whole being were involved. How much Jesus wishes to touch us, heal us, encounter us! Like the healed man and crowd in the gospel, we cannot keep quiet, either. Encounter with Jesus leads to our proclaiming his nearness, his care, his healing. We are never alone. We only need to open ourselves to Jesus’ touch. We only need to open ourselves to the Word who grants us all power to proclaim his nearness to the whole world.
In terms of Christian discipleship, we must come to know Jesus before we can proclaim who he is. Looking to mighty deeds that we think may be unfolding around us today—reports of miracles, etc.—is not where this gospel leads us. Rather, the gospel leads us to see Christ in the little things around us—the caring touch, the encouraging smile, the unexpected friendly phone call—and interpret these as evidence of God’s Presence and salvation. We ought to be “astonished” today by the many manifestations of God’s Presence in and through the people around us. We ought to be astonished at how God uses us as instruments to proclaim the Good News of salvation. We ought to be so keyed into Jesus’ Presence that we, too, cannot contain ourselves, but must proclaim God’s mighty deeds to anyone who has ears to hear.