'He has done all things well’ the people say of Jesus (Mk 7:31-37). We’ve heard often a similar thing in the Book of Genesis when God looked upon all that He had made and saw that it was good. Jesus in healing the deaf man enabling him to speak clearly was like the works of creation all over again. In the beginning everything had been good. Sin and disobedience had spoiled it all. Now, Jesus was bringing back the beauty of God to the world - restoring people body and soul.
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Love and Acceptance
Disabilities as we know happen to people. We might wish these things didn’t happen. Certainly, it is a real concern for families when children are born with disabilities. Those who are disabled too may wish that they were like other people and could do things that they do.
However, part of the Christian message is that we love and accept people as they are and allow each person to make their contribution. I am invited often to sing for ‘Faith and Light’ (communities made up of persons with an intellectual disability, their families and friends, particularly young friends, who meet on a regular basis in a Christian spirit, to share friendship, pray together, fiesta and celebrate life). I receive so much more than I give. Their joy, acceptance, determination, natural and genuine spirit touches my heart. Our world needs these gifts and you will know people with disabilities who have contributed powerfully in this way.
Some of our disabilities of course are not always visible. Emotional issues have a way of crippling us. Someone told me once that some Maori artists deliberately include an imperfection in their work because only God can create something perfect - the crack or imperfection allows the sun to shine through. It’s a powerful concept, because when it comes to our own lives and our own struggles, acceptance and compassion towards ourselves allows his light and healing presence to penetrate our defences and shine through us.
I am reminded of St Paul’s powerful insight in Corinthians when he can boast gladly of his weaknesses so that the power of Christ can rest on him. We do feel afraid at times, lacking in confidence, we experience dryness, isolation and loneliness, people can judge us for not being good enough, fashionable enough, wealthy enough, and intelligent enough and we can take on these expectations but Christ cares nothing for these things. He chooses people, St James says (James 2:1-5), who are poor according to the world to be rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom.
I am particularly struck by the way Jesus is present to the deaf man in the Gospel. He took him aside from the crowd, all by himself. A large jostling crowd would have been a tricky place for a deaf person to be. Sometimes people yell at deaf people to try and make them hear. Jesus showed the most tender consideration for the feelings of a man for whom life was very difficult. He did not consider the man as just another healing case but treated him as an individual. The man had a special need for a special problem, and with the most tender considerateness Jesus dealt with him in a way that spared his feelings and in a way he could understand.
Isn’t it consoling to picture Christ in this way - to imagine him at our side - aware of our needs and feelings, enabling us to hear his Word as if for the first time in the context of our own life experience? Healing and renewing us. This is his offering today. The deaf man represents all believers. We need the grace of Christ’s word and touch to open our ears and to loosen our tongues to tell of the Good things Christ has done for us.
The song I have chosen for you today is ‘You Raise Me Up’.