Sunday, 24 August 2014

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Today's Gospel is St Mark 7:31-37:

31 Et iterum exiens de finibus Tyri, venit per Sidonem ad mare Galilææ inter medios fines Decapoleos. 32 Et adducunt ei surdum, et mutum, et deprecabantur eum, ut imponat illi manum. 33 Et apprehendens eum de turba seorsum, misit digitos suos in auriculas ejus: et exspuens, tetigit linguam ejus: 34 et suscipiens in cælum, ingemuit, et ait illi: Ephphetha, quod est, Adaperire. 35 Et statim apertæ sunt aures ejus, et solutum est vinculum linguæ ejus, et loquebatur recte. 36 Et præcepit illis ne cui dicerent. Quanto autem eis præcipiebat, tanto magis plus prædicabant: 37 et eo amplius admirabantur, dicentes: Bene omnia fecit: et surdos fecit audire, et mutos loqui.

And again going out of the coasts of Tyre, he came by Sidon to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. [32] And they bring to him one deaf and dumb; and they besought him that he would lay his hand upon him. [33] And taking him from the multitude apart, he put his fingers into his ears, and spitting, he touched his tongue: [34] And looking up to heaven, he groaned, and said to him: Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened. [35] And immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right.[36] And he charged them that they should tell no man. But the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it. [37] And so much the more did they wonder, saying: He hath done all things well; he hath made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Matins readings (St Gregory the Great)

Reading 9: What signifieth it that when God, the Maker of all, would heal a deaf and dumb man, "He put His Fingers into his ears, and He spit, and touched his tongue." What is figured by the Fingers of the Redeemer but the gifts of the Holy Ghost? Hence it is written in another place Luke xi. 20 that after He had cast out an evil spirit, He said: "If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you." Which words are thus given by another Evangelist Matth. xii. 28: "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." By setting these two passages together we see that the Spirit is called the Finger. 

Reading 10: For our Lord, then, to put His Fingers into the deaf man's ears was by the gift of the Holy Spirit to enlighten his dark mind unto obedience. That signifieth it also that "He spit and touched his tongue." We receive spittle out of the Redeemer's mouth upon our tongues when we receive wisdom to speak God's truth. Spittle is a secretion of the head which floweth into the mouth. And so, that wisdom, which is Himself, the great Head of His Church, as soon as it hath touched our tongue, doth straightway take the form of preaching. 

Reading 11: "And looking up to heaven, He sighed," not that He had any need to sigh, Who gave whatsoever He asked, but that He was fain to teach us to look up and sigh toward Him Whose throne is in heaven, confessing our need, that our ears should be opened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our tongue loosed by the spittle of our Saviour's Mouth, that is, by knowledge of His Divine Word, before we can use it to preach to others.

Reading 12: "And He said unto him: Ephphatha, that is, be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed." Herein we must remark the command, "Be opened" was addressed to the deaf ears, but the tongue also was immediately loosed. Just so, when the ears of a man's heart have been opened to learn the obedience of faith, the string of his tongue also is thereupon loosed, that he may exhort others to do the good things which himself doth. It is well added "And he spake plain." He only doth well preach obedience to others who hath first learnt himself to obey.

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