St Mark 7: 24-37

Verses 31-37 of St Mark 7 are the Gospel for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost.  St Mark 7: 24-37:

24 Et inde surgens abiit in fines Tyri et Sidonis: et ingressus domum, neminem voluit scire, et non potuit latere. 25 Mulier enim statim ut audivit de eo, cujus filia habebat spiritum immundum, intravit, et procidit ad pedes ejus. 26 Erat enim mulier gentilis, Syrophœnissa genere. Et rogabat eum ut dæmonium ejiceret de filia ejus. 27 Qui dixit illi: Sine prius saturari filios: non est enim bonum sumere panem filiorum, et mittere canibus. 28 At illa respondit, et dixit illi: Utique Domine, nam et catelli comedunt sub mensa de micis puerorum. 29 Et ait illi: Propter hunc sermonem vade: exiit dæmonium a filia tua. 30 Et cum abiisset domum suam, invenit puellam jacentem supra lectum, et dæmonium exiisse.
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.

[24] And rising from thence he went into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon: and entering into a house, he would that no man should know it, and he could not be hid. [25] For a woman as soon as she heard of him, whose daughter had an unclean spirit, came in and fell down at his feet. [26] For the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophenician born. And she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. [27] Who said to her: Suffer first the children to be filled: for it is not good to take the bread of the children, and cast it to the dogs. [28] But she answered and said to him: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat under the table of the crumbs of the children. [29] And he said to her: For this saying go thy way, the devil is gone out of thy daughter. [30] And when she was come into her house, she found the girl lying upon the bed, and that the devil was gone out.[31] 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.

Commentary by de Lapide

Ver. 26. A Gentile: Gr. έλλήνις, i.e., a Grecian woman, for where the Greeks bore sway, all Gentiles were called Greeks. Hence the expression in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, “The Jew first, and also the Greek” i.e., the Gentile.

A Syrophonician, i.e., belonging to that part of Phœnicia which looks towards Syria.

Ver. 32. And dumb: Gr. μογιλάλον, i.e., speaking with difficulty or an impediment, stammering. For when he was healed by Christ he spake right, i.e., freely, as it is in the 35th verse. He was not, therefore, entirely dumb, as they are who are born deaf. These are called in Greek άλαλοι.

Ver. 33. And spitting, He touched his tongue. Christ wrought harmoniously, as though by His healing saliva He would moisten and loosen the dumb mouth, which was bound through drought.

Now He spat not upon the mouth of the mute, but upon His own finger, and by means of His finger applied the saliva to the mouth of the mute, as may be gathered from the Greek. This was required by propriety and decorum. Moreover, when Christ opened the ears and unloosed the tongue of the body, He opened also the ears and tongue of the soul, that they might listen to His inspiration, and believe that He was the Messiah, and that they might ask and obtain of Him pardon of their sins.

Tropologically: Every one ought to seek the same thing, and say with the Psalmist, “0 Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise” (Ps. li. 17). We ought to do the same as regards our ears, that we may be able to sing aloud with Isaiah (1. 4), “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Now this is done when He Himself with His own Finger, that is, the Holy Ghost (for He is “the Finger of God,” Exod. viii. 19), and the spittle of Heavenly Wisdom, which is He Himself proceeding forth from the mouth of the Most High, touches the tongue of the soul.

Ver. 34. And looking up to heaven (because from thence come words to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, healing for all infirmities, says Bede), He groaned; both because He sympathised with the misery of the deaf and dumb man, as because in groaning He prayed and obtained healing for him from God.
Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened, ie., which so signifies. “Where,” says Bede, “the two natures of the one and the same Mediator between God and man are plainly set forth. For, looking up to heaven as man, He groaned, being about to pray to God; presently by a single word, as having the power of Divine Majesty, He healed.” For we all have eyes, but the blind have theirs shut and closed, which in the Syriac idiom are elegantly said to be opened when their shutters are unclosed, as Angelus Caninius says (in Nom. Heb. c. 10). Moreover, the Heb. patach signifies to open. From whence is the imperative passive, or Niphal, hippateach, by crasis hippatach, for which the Syrians use Ephpheta, be open.
Ver. 36. He charged them that they should tell no man. This was not properly a command, involving a fault if disobeyed, but merely a token of urbanity and modesty, that, indeed, He might signify He would not make a parade of His miracles, or by their means obtain the vain glory of men. Wherefore they did not commit sin who nevertheless divulged them. Wherefore it follows, the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it. “We are taught by this,” says Theophylact, “that when we confer benefits we should not seek for applause therefrom; but when we have received benefits we should praise our benefactors, even though they are unwilling to be praised.” And S. Augustine says, “By His prohibition the Lord wished to teach us how very fervently they ought to preach to whom He has given a command to preach, when they who were commanded to be silent could not hold their peace”

Ver. 37. He hath done all things well: Gr. καλω̃ς, i.e., beautifully, becomingly, harmoniously. Christ did nothing which the Pharisees or such like fault-finders could justly blame. Again, the Heb. for well is heteb, i.e., beneficently, because He gave hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb. Indeed, Christ’s whole life was one continuous beneficence. 

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