The first reading begins with a statement about the prophet hearing.” Being deaf and mute in the Gospels appear together; Jesus heals the deafness first and the muteness healing comes along for the ride.
Hastings’ Dictionary of the New Testament in its article under Deaf and Dumb argues, the Gospel writers use the same Greek term interchangeably for both deaf and dumb.
Along the way, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, others one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ.” The Son of Man must suffer greatly, be rejected by the presbyters/priests, the chief priests/Hierarchs and the scribes/grammarians, be killed, and rise after three days. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him… You think not as God, but as humans.”
Why bring up a prediction of his passion right after Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ? I have two faults that are major in my communication, being wordy, and academic when a personal approach is called for. I was not allowed to attend the past Synod, why what I learned over the past decades is not open for discussion at Bible Study, and why the diocesan director of faith formation said there was no place for me in the Catholic Church. I identify with Peter and Paul, worse at it than Peter. The people give human examples. Peter/the leader, gives an academic one; Jesus is the Messiah, a title.
Father Abbot had a conversation with Deacon Peter. Father asked, “Who do the people say I am?” Deacon replied, “Some say you are St. Augustine, some Thomas Aquinas, others a great preacher.” Father Abbot asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Deacon replied, “You are the anointed of this parish, Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno.
Father Abbot replied, “I have stage four renal cancer. Cysts grow inside my kidneys and are large. I suffer sharp pains constantly, along with in my liver, my spleen, and into my lungs where it metastasized and I feel great pain. I will be dead in six months.” Deacon rebuked him.
Jesus looks for a personal response. Father John Bain called this a shared “Life Experience.” He looks for a response speaking of finding Jesus while fishing, healing his mother from a fever, the emotion of the healings, traumatic encounters with the hierarchs, the elders, and the grammarians, hearing Torah in a new and more personal way… Peter gives none of this.
Jesus expects the promise of prayers for help in dealing with this, a life experience of shared compassion. Peter gives none of this. We are only told of a rebuke. There is no mention of a pregnant pause. This is the great clown, Peter, Charles Wayne, Francis Augustine Gill, with diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain, engaging mouth before putting brain in gear. This is Peter, Charles Wayne, Francis Augustine Gill thinking only of himself and how he will deal with life with no Jesus/Father Abbot around. This is how humans think.
In the section immediately, preceding Jesus heals a blind man. The first time the blind man reports everyone looks like walking trees. The word for “Trees” and “Counselors” is “Eights.” Everyone looks like codgy, stodgy men. The second time “his sight was restored and he saw everything distinctly.” He saw people in all their humanity. This is how God sees.
A chapter earlier Mark mentions the healing of the deaf man. His hearing returns first and he speaks. Let us pray that I somehow learn to hear and to see, not the outside, but the inside, be like Father Ron Olson who thinks as God, always looking for the heart, able to look past the academics and the wordiness and to see the real person striving to connect. Let us learn to hear and see Jesus in our neighbor, striving, for a personal relationship with one big life experience from cradle to the grave.