On this very cold and snowy morning we heard once again the Gospel story of the healing of the deaf and dumb man.
Imagine him as his friends come rushing to fetch him, signaling, perhaps scribbling on a tablet for him to read: "He’s here, the Master. And we want to take you to him. Hurry." But now imagine the poor man’s reluctance, for he has grown complacent with his infirmity, accustomed to the deafness. And of course he knows the painful truth: his infirmity, this deafness is the direct consequence of his sin (maybe the sin of his parents, but probably his own sin.) He knows it; everybody in the town knows it, all devout Jews in Jesus’ day believed it- sin leaves its mark; sin causes sickness. And so perhaps he motions, trembling, shaking his head vigorously at his friends. "No, no." For he believes that somehow he deserves to be deaf and dumb and babbling. It’s probably his fault. Case closed. Dead end.
But Jesus comes to the dead end and says, "No! I won’t have it. God won’t have it. Enough." For the exquisite love of God, enfleshed in Christ Jesus our Lord is deeply impatient with the illness, the pain, the isolation. Jesus finds the impairment unbearable. And so quietly he takes the man off by himself away from the crowd, and he groans from the depths his desire for this man’s freedom and healing. And it is this groaning of God in Christ that now breaks through the boundaries of good taste, discretion and formality; well beyond the limits of hygiene and what we might call today, proper ministerial protocol. Jesus very boldly puts his fingers into the deaf man’s ears and then touches his tongue with his own spittle; and healing occurs. God’s warm spittle; God’s warm, vibrant touch are divinely efficacious- sacraments of God’s healing in Christ. And what he opens no one can close.
Now physicians, the parents of little ones, or perhaps even lovers or spouses might on occasion dare to touch so familiarly, sensually, discarding all boundaries- putting fingers in ears and mouth. Yes. And so fittingly enough Jesus, who is for us Mother and Father and Bridegroom and kind Doctor, reaches out and touches this deaf man proclaiming, with healing down to his very fingertips, the in-breaking of God’s regenerative intimacy with us. The Word seeks communion. Jesus breaks boundaries, because God’s love is in fact boundless.