In the Prophetic Tradition of the Old Testament, deafness, dumbness or blindness are figures of resistance to the message of God. This is because these illnesses impede the individual from participating in the synagogue activities and temple worship; thus preventing the patient from having access to salvation.
In today’s Gospel (Mark 9:14-29), we are presented with the case of a boy possessed by a spirit of dumbness in him, and when it takes hold of him, it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and goes rigid. This is a case of dumbness (and deafness, see verse 25) and epileptic symptoms. This situation symbolizes the “oppressed and people impeded from the means to salvation”. They went to the ‘disciples’ to heal him; however, they could not; they lacked faith. They felt impotent in the face of the evil that imprisoned the oppressed people. They turned to our Lord Jesus Christ, the “Wisdom and of God” (as seen in the First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10), (who in the Greek translation was “possessed” or “acquired” by God, and not created) whom “God has poured out on all his works to be with all mankind as his gift…” Jesus reproaches them: “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be with you?” The father of the boy, who represents the hope of the multitude, has a small faith: “if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us …” Jesus reinforces the lesson on faith: “everything is possible for anyone who has faith.” Finally, Jesus orders the deaf and mute spirit to leave the child alone. To his disciples disillusioned by the inability to heal the child, Jesus clarifies the reason for failure: lack of faith and prayer.
In a modern scientific age where a “deaf and dumb humanity” with lack of faith feels it could realize everything all by itself, without turning to Christ, the wisdom and Power of God (cf. 1Cor 1:24) in ardent prayer, the Church through the readings of today exhorts us to return to the source – Jesus Christ, who is Wisdom personified, for in him lies the solution to man’s pressing needs and not in science. It is he who has girded himself with power and might, as the Psalmist puts it today: “the Lord has robed himself with might, he has girded himself with power (cf. Psalm 92(93):1-2,5).
©Rev. Fr. Chinaka J. Mbaeri, OSJ