September 5, 2021: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Associate Pastor’s Corner
“And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. …They were exceedingly astonished, and they said, ‘He has done all things well.’” - Mark 7:37
After Jesus heals the deaf man by opening his ears to hear and his tongue to speak, the crowd says of him that, “he has done all things well.” How rarely do we say this of any person, that they have done all things well? Instead, we gleefully proclaim the flaws of our enemies and make excuses for the mistakes of our friends. And indeed, it seems that there are few if any perfect ones among us, and recent history has shown that those who might seem without blemish might just be better at hiding it.
Social media makes it possible not only hide blemishes and exaggerate features in photos on Instagram, but also to hide the dark and problematic moments of our lives, presenting a façade of perfection to the world. But the truth always comes out eventually, leading us to a kind of despair, that perfection is merely a superficial illusion to be leveraged for fame and profit. So why even try?
Jesus is different; he doesn’t want credit or fame. Not only does he heal the deaf man away from the crowd, he orders them not to tell anyone. Jesus is different; he really heals. He is not simply a good doctor of the body, but as the crowd says, he does all things well. As we ourselves have experienced, he forgives sin, he gives his life for his people, he casts out demons, and he brings authentic hope and conversion. Jesus does all these things because, as our Creator, he knows that we are not perfect and that we need healing. He doesn’t give up on us, but calls us to true perfection, to union with God.
Jesus is different; he invites us to participate, to be part of his mission. He calls us to be evidence to others of his work, that he has done all things well, because we are his most cherished accomplishment. And if Jesus can cherish all of his brothers and sisters, so can we. Today is the day to say of our brother and sister, our neighbor, and even of our enemy, “he has done things well,” to notice and proclaim the goodness in them, rather than the evil.
To notice the good is not to simply ignore the bad, the place where good is supposed to be. Jesus, in fact, routinely called out the Pharisees and others for the evils that they were doing. Rather, to notice the good is to not allow the faults and failings to define others (or ourselves).
And the more we become accustomed to seeing the good in others, the more we will be able to see the hand of God at work in the world. God has indeed done all things well, but the evil brought into the world by men can easily blind us to his goodness, leading to doubt and despair. God does not blow a trumpet before him, advertising his good deeds and his successes. But indeed, our Creator Savior has done all things well. He who has ears ought to hear.
-Fr. Christopher Wetzel, OP