Down, Dirty, and Divine!

February 11, 2022
Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel gives us one my favorite portrayals of Jesus. It’s what I think of as “down in the dirt with us” Jesus. Let me give you some background on the image.

Me and Petey 😉 1955, looking a lot cleaner and official than we really were!

When I was a kid in North Philly, my buddy’s dog was hit by a car. We were playing baseball in a cinder lot (that’s where the railroad dumped its ashes in the old days when trains ran on coal). We were about a half block away when we heard the screeching. We turned and watched the guilty car speed off without a moment’s hesitation.

Petey ran screaming toward his dog, the rest of us cinder-dusty kids streaming behind him. I can still see Petey lie down beside that whimpering mutt who had been tossed into a muddy gully along Philip Street. He cradled the bruised head and whispered to the frightened eyes. Then Petey quietly said, “Get my Dad”, as he stroked Lightening’s heaving back.

As I remember that moment today, Petey reflects the image of the Divine Healer who – muddied and bloodied — has taken a place beside all of us as we suffer. He is unafraid of our mud and cinders. He is touched by our mumblings and tears.

In today’s Gospel, there is stunning humanness. The suffering man doesn’t just ask for a miracle. He asks for a hand to be laid on him, for a touch, for a connection he can feel. And Jesus hears his deep human need.

People brought to Jesus a deaf man who had a speech impediment
who begged him to lay his hand on him.

Mark 7:32
Be Opened – Thomas Davidson (1872)

Some miracles are accomplished by a fleshless, electric word shot through the air. But not this one.

With this lonely, isolated man, feel Jesus caress your head, perhaps finger the ears that have heard so much criticism and frustration. Feel Jesus touch your tongue, twisted sometimes in its attempts to speak your meaning into the world. Receive the surprising gift of Divine spittle that intends to insure, “I am part of you now. You will never be alone again.”

Hear Christ’s groan as he prays for you in sounds that plead, “Get my Dad. ABBA, Father.”

He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)

Mark 7:32-34

Hear the definite pronouncement of your liberation
from anything that tongue-ties, heart-ties,
soul-ties your life:
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)

Poetry: I believe in all that has never been spoken – Rainer Maria Rilke
~ from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clearwithout my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Music: Ephphatha – Fill Me – Carrie Allwine

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