In this week’s readings we hear Isaiah predicting the coming of the Holy One of Israel, and Jesus fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy by opening the ears of a deaf man. But Jesus did not come only for those blind to sunlight or those deaf to sound waves – without the Holy Spirit, we are all deaf and blind to God’s wisdom. Jesus came to proclaim the good news and to bestow His riches on all who call on Him. God has poured out His Spirit upon us to supply all that we lack, even as He poured out His precious blood to save us while we were still His enemies, blind and lost in our sins.
The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 29, verses 17-24:
Is it not yet a very little while
until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
In that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
For the ruthless shall come to nothing
and the scoffer cease,
and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
who by a word make a man out to be an offender,
and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,
and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:
“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale.
For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who murmur will accept instruction.”
The Epistle lesson is from Romans, chapter 10, verses 9-17:
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
The Gospel for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity is from Mark, chapter 7, verses 31-37:
Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Jesus Heals a Mute Possessed Man, by James Tissot [Public domain]