Hearing and speaking

Isaiah 50:4-9

Psalm 116:1-8

James 2:1-5, 8-10, 14-18

Mark 9:14-29

Sorry I missed a week, if anyone was looking for last Sunday’s propers. I flew to Colorado to celebrate my dad’s eightieth birthday. It was a great thing to do.

This Sunday, I am choosing the second option from Mark’s Gospel, because it seems like we have already heard about taking up our cross and following Jesus once this year, and we almost never get to hear this story about the disciples’ failure to cast out a demon.

This passage today comes in a string of stories after the stories organized around the sea crossing/healing/feeding motif. After the healing of the four thousand and some teaching about the leaven of the Pharisees, Jesus heals the blind man of Bethsaida, only he isn’t healed completely the first time. He sees people walking around like trees (8:22f). Immediately afterwards, Peter confesses Jesus to be the Christ, but he doesn’t quite get it right: he scolds Jesus for predicting his own passion and death. Like the blind man, Peter sees, but doesn’t see perfectly. Then follows a teaching about discipleship, and the Transfiguration. As Peter, James and John come down the mountain, they say nothing to anyone.

Then comes this healing. As Jesus comes down the mountain, the people react with astonishment — perhaps, like Moses, Jesus still shows signs of the transfiguration. He then heals a boy a speechless spirit, who becomes like one dead, until Jesus raises him. Then the father and the crowd can’t keep their mouths shut. Jesus tells the disciples that this kind come out only by prayer. Then follows the second prediction of the passion.

Peter confesses the Christ in the small circle of disciples, but they say nothing to anyone until after Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps this miracle interprets the disciples’ silence. In order to confess the Christ, and to raise the dead, the disciples must be committed to the cause through prayer. To whose prayers are we called to give voice? Who are the shaken and harassed and voiceless, who need the proclamation of the Christ? What passion awaits?

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