Thoughts on Mark 7:31-17
Back from your vacation, they bring you a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. They beg you to lay your hand upon him. You take the man to a private place, away from the crowd. With great intention you turn him to face you and gently, purposefully, stick your fingers in his ears, his literal ears. You then spit on your finger and touch his tongue and pray. “Be opened.” And voila, his ears became more that something to hold his glasses up, they became the means by which he could take in the sounds of the world. And the bonds that imprisoned his speech were removed, he could talk rightly, his words were easily understood. Returning him to the crowd you spoke directly to them, charging them to keep quiet about what they had witnessed, but they ignored your warning. In their excitement they told everyone about what you had done. “He has done all things beautifully, finely, excellently, well.”
How considerate you are, Jesus, taking this man to a quiet place away from the yammering crowd so that when his ears were opened he would not be overwhelmed by their noise and cries. The first sound he would hear would be your voice, brimming with kindness. In opening his ears, you gave him the means to more easily engage with the world around him. Your spit mingled with his and with a loosed tongue, he could finally communicate the status of his heart. He could speak rightly, plainly and be easily understood. I wonder what the two of you spoke of in these first moments of his restoration? What words poured from your heart into his? What words would he now speak, confident of being understood?
Jesus, take me to a quiet place, away from the clamor of expectations and demands. Look me in the eye and open my ears to hear your voice of love. Open my mouth to speak rightly about me, about you, about the hope and healing you provide. This is my heart’s prayer, for me and for those I love, to be touched by you so your love and intention can be received and believed; and to be united with you, so my words are congruent with truth and easily understood. From this quiet place return me to the world that needs to see the product of your healing touch. Thank you and amen.
Thoughts on Mark 7:24-30
You wanted anonymity, so you left the country. Surely, outside of Israel, you could get a rest. Not so fast Jesus, your reputation had gone before you into the land of the Gentiles. The Christ could not/cannot be hidden. A Greek woman, a desperate mother, heard of you and found you out. She came on behalf of her demon-possessed daughter, begging you to cast out the spirit that had made itself a home in her child. You said, no. It wasn’t in your current job description, you came for the children of Israel. But she persisted, she outmatched you in wit and perseverance, you relented and granted her request.
We are never off duty. Our love is owed to all at all times. An off-duty police officer still upholds the law, even though he’s not officially on the clock; a doctor offers medical help when she comes upon the scene of an accident. We are not ministers of Christ’s healing love only when we are among our tribe. Every dog deserves to be fed.
This sure pokes my conscience. I’m so vigilant over my time. On a plane I do everything possible to avoid conversation with my seat mate. I don’t want to give of myself to another when I don’t want to. I’m happy to make Jack a smoothie, when it’s on my time line. If he asks it of me when I’m busy doing my thing, ooh, the resentment leaks out. Oh, selfish me. Lord, I want to be like you, I want to honor my need for rest, have a clear vision of my mission, and then be willing to go off the page when another’s need is made known to me. Grant me the grace to feed the children and the dogs. Thank you and amen.
Thoughts on Mark 7:14-23
Usually the crowds followed you, but this time you called the meeting. You had something extremely important to communicate. “Listen closely and make sure you get my point.” You had their attention. “What you take into you doesn’t make you dirty, what comes out of you is what makes you dirty.” Boom. Meeting adjourned.
In the privacy of the house, sitting around the dinner table, your disciples wanted to know what the heck you were talking about. Once again, you speak slowly so they can understand your point. You take a bite of the lamb kabob and explain. “I eat this food, it enters my stomach and then passes out. Nothing you eat enters your heart, and the things that make you dirty come from your heart. Food is not the source of evil thoughts, they reside within you. Such things as fornication, theft, murder, in fact all evil things are already within you, ready to be spoken or acted upon. These are what make you dirty.”
I get the point. I can’t make myself clean, the dirty is within. Keeping the rules, doesn’t erase what’s written on my heart. It is very important for me to understand this. Very Important. Bottom line: I need a new heart.