RCL Year B Proper 18
Isaiah 35:4-7a, Psalm 146, James 2:1-10 and 14-17, Saint Mark 7:24-37

You heard these words in the Old Testament Lesson today: “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear!’”[1] If you have ever known fear, or apprehension, or even just concern, these Lessons are for you. They are for you because they show a God who, in the face of fear, apprehension, and concern, performs miracles. Our God is a God of miracles.

The miracle in today’s Gospel of the healing of the deaf-mute opens up more than ears and loosens more than a tongue. This ministry of Christ requires new growth and calls for greater responsibility. The man healed is in the position you and I are in already, with the full responsibility of what we heard last Sunday in the Epistle: “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”[2] Throughout the Scriptures, you find this connection. It is inadequate to listen only. We must do the Word. And it is in doing the word and will of God that we are most truly God’s people.

Some time ago, I was given a sort of corroboration when on a financial network I heard the ceo of a major company say just about the same thing, except he said it better. He said, “We have to walk our talk.” I know it’s a cliché, but clichés tell truths, and it’s a truth that the Scriptures tell us day-by-day.

Christ offers freedom, and healing, and encouragement to us so that we may become able to produce, to yield, God’s righteousness in a broken world so desperate for healing and freedom. That is our ministry—yours and mine together. Whenever we have known fear, or apprehension, or even just concern, we have to be prepared to meet the God who does miracles and does them occasionally through us for others. Our ministry is to be open to this possibility, to this way that God has of getting his will done. Together we receive God’s blessings and God’s healing in the time given us. We are to turn around double-quick and share that very healing and those very blessings with those who cannot speak a word or hear a sound. God has shared many blessings with us not that we are a destination but that the kingdom may be enlarged, that we share them with others.

For this is what Christ does in the Gospel, in giving his freedom and healing to the deaf-mute. He wants us to go and to do likewise. For every person you meet, every one you know, is one of Christ’s special friends, a sort-of deaf-mute, one who with Christ’s love shared can hear more and say more than before. Jesus offers us a new self, a new identity. Take it. Take Christ’s new life today. It’s yours, offered for you to live in wholeness and soundness all your days in this life and the next. Take it. But in taking what Christ offers, do not fail to remember the words of the Epistle of Saint James: “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” Remember why your blessings came to you. They came to you so you could pass them on, give them to someone who needs them at least as much as you.

[1] Isaiah 35:4.

[2] Saint James 1:22.