Homily 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle B September 9, 2018

The secretiveness of Jesus is on display in this moving Gospel story. Throughout the course of his public ministry, our Lord, whenever crossing paths with a person who is ill, physically deformed in some way, or in need of forgiveness of their sins, he would never and could never allow that situation to pass by without addressing it somehow. He would recognize the particular need before him, be it spiritual, or the combination of physical and spiritual, and, in his divine capacity uproot a deformed situation in someone’s life, and make the person whole. How long the wholeness would last, many times, would be up to the individual who experienced the healing.

                All that Christ did, all that he spoke, all that he taught, was good and holy. Not to make himself feel good; he was already God in the flesh, which I would think feels pretty good. His purpose was to lift up the sufferer, the one who knew physical and spiritual pain; the pain of sin; the pain of a physical nature, like being deaf and dumb; the pain of separation from communities, like lepers; the pain of not being whole in some way that takes away from the joy and happiness that our Lord so deeply desires for all of us.

                Even though the Lord speaks elsewhere in the Gospel, “Pick up your cross and come after me,” and, “You will have trouble in the world,” even though he emphasizes time and again that struggle and strife are a highlighted part of this faith journey for us, what undergirds all that language of Christ is that he still deeply desires our joy and happiness, for at the end of the day he is risen. He is victorious over all the ailments and tortures that life will send our way, as well as all that people will cause to others who are made in God’s image and likeness, including priests being the unholy cause, as we have seen once again.

                In the Gospel, Jesus, if you will, gets physical. It’s a loving, compassionate, caring, redeeming type of physical. And Mark’s Gospel is a “physical” Gospel. Look what our Lord does! He put his finger into the deaf man’s ear; any ear Doctor will tell you, “Don’t do that to yourself, unless you wish to grow deaf.” Then, Jesus spits, touching his tongue. His holy saliva is in the guy’s ear. And then comes the purpose for all the physical moves; “Be opened. Speak clearly; hear; hear the amazement of the witnesses’ present; hear how they proclaim this man in their midst a miracle worker; a doer of incredible things that bring joy and happiness to a person who was deformed.”

                The physicalness of Christ reclaims the wholeness of the individual. It’s not the only time he does this. In John’s Gospel he rubs mud in the eyes of the blind man telling him to go wash in the pool. It’s a beautiful thing what Jesus does, filled with great love and compassion.

                His request is to not tell anyone – a request they totally ignore. It’s one of the few requests of Jesus that goes unheeded. They don’t listen to him. You can’t hold back, not just good news, but great news too. If anyone of you wins the Powerball, if you think you can keep that a secret, you’re living on another planet. Our Lord’s request for them to not tell anyone about the healing, his apparent secretiveness, is simply the Gospel writer’s way of holding back on our Lord’s true identity until he gets to the Cross, where the centurion will proclaim, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” It’s called the Markan Secret. The secret in Mark’s Gospel where Christ will become fully known and identified while on the Cross, at the moment of his death.

                There should be no Markan secrets in the Church. The more transparent we are, the more transparent the leaders of God’s Church are, the more holy we will become. Holiness is the goal; holiness is the way of life that Christ calls us to, as he was holy in his earthly journey.

                Over the past near century, there have been, as we now know again, many priests and Bishops who lived physically and spiritually unholy lives; the opposite of what we see in this beautiful Gospel, where the physicalness of Jesus leads to great joy and happiness. There have been many priests who have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders whom God did not call to the priesthood. I am not of the mindset that every guy who gets ordained is called by God to the priesthood. There’s no way that’s true. God calls holy priests, of which there is many today. He does not call those who go on to commit the gravest of sins.

                And, there have been many Bishops who are as dumb as a doornail. Fortunately, ours is not one of them. They’ve made decisions where you want to say, “What are you thinking? Where’s your common sense and common decency? That isn’t what Christ wants, to put these guys in settings where they can continue their unholy actions.”

                We continue to pray for every person affected by the unholy actions of men who were never called to the priesthood, yet got in, and Bishops who looked more like Judas than Peter. May our loving and gentle Jesus make those affected people whole again, and touch them with his Divine grace.

                May God continue to cleanse his Church in like manner of Jesus cleaning up the ear and voice of the deaf man with a speech impediment. And may God bless you, the good People of God, who are so faithful in times of great adversity and confusion. May he touch you also with his grace and healing power, for you are the ones who will bring his Church to the place of joy and happiness where he wants us to be.