23rd Sunday OT:
Our God will come with vindication for his people. These words of the prophet Isaiah capture the faith of the people of Israel. More than likely these words were written sometime near the time of the exile. It was a difficult time, they were being attacked by Assyria, their nation was crumbling around them. But, they held onto their faith that God would come to save them.
How beautiful for us to read this passage in the light of Christ. The people of Israel believed that God would never leave them, never abandon them. They believed that God would bring them salvation, but who could imagine how God planned, in the fullness of time, to bring about this salvation: God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son so that all those who believe in him might not perish, but might have eternal life. The Good News of salvation is that God indeed comes for his people. He came as one of us; the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This time God wasn't bringing salvation from Assyrians, Egyptians, or Babylonians. This time he came to do battle with the very brokenness of humanity itself. Our Savior came to do battle with sin, with death, with the fallenness that is ours. Jesus came to speak Good News to his people.
Jesus came to bring salvation to Israel, to the chosen people, but, he also came as a man to speak to all men and women. We see this truth in our gospel today. Right at the beginning of our reading we hear that Jesus entered the Decapolis. This region was a gentile region. The man in the story today becomes a symbol for all the Gentiles, all the non-Jewish people, in other words all of us. We know that in the Old Testament, God spoke to his people Israel through the prophets. But, non-Jewish people might be considered deaf to the voice of God. So, the deaf person in the gospel could stand for all those who were outside of the people of Israel, deaf to the Word of God. But, Christ opens the ears of the Gentile. When Christ comes among us, he opens our ears to hear the Good News of salvation. After he opens our ears, it becomes imperative that he touches our tongues as well, for after having heard Good News, it is impossible to be silent.
Christ came to preach the Good News to all, to open the ears of all humanity so that we can hear God's Word, he came to loosen our tongues so we could proclaim this Word. By his incarnation, by taking on our common human nature, no one is excluded. Christ came for us all. This is why James found the giving of preferential treatment to a class of people so offensive. Christ came for all of us, rich and poor, Jewish and Gentile, slave and free.
And look at the price that Christ pays to open our ears and touch out tongues. It says in the gospel today that Jesus groaned. Think of another time when Christ is in agony: on the cross. Every time we look at the Cross of Christ we see how much he loves every person on the planet, every human person who has ever lived. Christ came for all, and he gave himself up for all. As Christians, as those who have been touched by Christ, we too should go out to all of humanity. By his death on the Cross Jesus brought salvation for his people.
We were first touched by the power of this sacrifice on the day of our baptism, and we are strengthened and renewed by this sacrifice every time we gather at this altar. And at the end of this mass, and every mass, we are sent on a mission to go and announce the gospel of the Lord. Each week we reenact this gospel passage, Christ touches our ears with his words, he touches our tongues in Holy Communion, then we go out to spread the Good News.