GOSPEL READING: Matthew 9:32-38
32 As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to him.33 And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Meditation: What help and hope can we give to someone who experiences chronic distress or some incurable disease of mind and body? Spiritual, emotional, and physical suffering often go hand in hand. Jesus was well acquainted with individuals who suffered intolerable affliction – whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. A “dumb demoniac” was brought to Jesus by his friends with the hope that Jesus would set the troubled man free. These neighbors, no doubt, took pity on this man who had a double impediment. He had not only lost his ability to speak, but was also greatly disturbed in mind and spirit. This was no doubt due to the influence of evil spirits who tormented him day and night with thoughts of despair and hopeless abandonment by God.
Jesus brings freedom and healing
Jesus immediately set him free from the demon who tormented him and restored his ability to speak at the same time. This double miracle brought wonder to the crowds who watched in amazement. “Nothing like this had ever been done before in the land of Israel!” Whenever people approached Jesus with expectant faith, he set them free from whatever afflicted them – whether it be a disease of mind and body, a crippling burden of guilt and sin, a tormenting spirit or uncontrollable fear of harm.
How could Jesus’ miracles cause both scorn and wonder at the same time from those who professed faith in God? Don’t we often encounter the same reaction today, even in ourselves! The crowds looked with awe at the wonderful works which Jesus did, but the religious leaders attributed this same work to the power of the devil. They disbelieved because they refused to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Their idea of religion was too narrow and closed to accept Jesus as the Anointed One sent by the Father “to set the captives free” (Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 11:5). They were too set in their own ways to change and they were too proud to submit to Jesus. They held too rigidly to the observances of their ritual laws while neglecting the more important duties of love of God and love of neighbor. The people, as a result, were spiritually adrift and hungry for God. Jesus met their need and gave them new faith and hope in God’s saving help.
The Gospel brings new life and freedom
Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed God’s kingdom is made manifest and new life and freedom is given to those who respond with faith. The Lord grants freedom to all who turn to him with trust. Do you bring your troubles to the Lord with expectant faith that he can set you free? The Lord invites us to pray that the work of the Gospel may spread throughout the world, so that all may find true joy and freedom in Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come to all who are oppressed and in darkness. Fill my heart with compassion for all who suffer mentally and physically. Use me to bring the good news of your saving grace and mercy to those around me who need your healing love and forgiveness.
3 Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.
9 O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, put your trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Freedom and healing in Christ, by Hilary of Poitiers (315-367 AD)
“In the deaf and dumb and demoniac appear the need of the Gentiles for a complete healing. Beleaguered on all sides by misfortune, they were associated with all types of the body’s infirmities. And in this regard a proper order of things is observed. For the devil is first cast out; then the other bodily benefits follow suit. With the folly of all superstitions put to flight by the knowledge of God, sight and hearing and words of healing are introduced. The declaration of the onlookers followed their admiration over what took place: ‘Never has the like been seen in Israel.’ Indeed, he whom the law could not help was made well by the power of the Word, and the deaf and dumb man spoke the praises of God. Deliverance has been given to the Gentiles. All the towns and all the villages are enlightened by the power and presence of Christ, and the people are freed from every impairment of the timeless malady. (excerpt from ON MATTHEW 9.10)