Mark 7:33

Jesus took him aside from the crowd quietly, put his fingers into the man’s ears, and touched his tongue with saliva. 


every healing is different
some it is better not to see
very much like making sausage

there are incidental healings
no one sees a hem touched
we cheer a word rolling up a mat

there are multi-layered changes
filled with finger ears and tongue
requiring second tries to clear trees

there are healings with and without
your or my or any faith component
much less active resistance

random vehicles to the same effect
each unique to avoid copycat technique
reducing life to standardized answers

draw apart
do the necessary
move on


While most of Jesus’ healings have been done in plain sight of a crowd, there are those that are not — Peter’s unnamed mother-in-law, an unnamed leper(?), Jairus’ unnamed daughter, the unnamed daughter of an unnamed Syrophoenician woman.

Jesus has also taken the disciples off by themselves after a teaching or practicum to deepen their discipleship (4:10, 6:31, 7:17). We might be witnessing the formation of another extra-church disciple such as the Geresene left to tell his story or an “anonymous Christian” as described by Karl Rahner.

Saliva has been used by mothers since time immemorial and some cultures, Bratcher242 reminds, see it as a “means of blessing (Shilluk) or therapy (Kiyaka)”. Sometimes it is difficult for us to deal with personal responses to what we name as gross.

This scene has also made it into the sacramental life of the church. Carrington159 notes:

It is read in the Greek liturgy during the season of Lent when candidates were being prepared for baptism. In Rome it passed into the baptismal ritual, and was enacted with the candidates … in the ritual called the Opening of the Ears…. The fact is that the power that was in Jesus and in his gospel could not express itself adequately in mere words; it activated his whole body, hands, fingers, eyes, and tongue. it communicated itself through gestures and physical contacts. There was an externalized ‘sacramental’ quality about it.

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