What do the Gospel texts from Mark 7 & 8 teach about healing?
Comparing the texts reveals similarities and significant differences:
Both texts involve healing of men. In both, Jesus employs touching their ears/tongue/eyes with his hands covered with his saliva. In Jesus’ action, he definitely gets his hands dirty. And, both texts conclude with Jesus’ ordering the healed not to tell anyone about what happened.
The most significant difference is, whereas the healing in Mark 7 is immediate the healing in Mark 8 occurs in stages. After the first stage of touching, Jesus asks, “How’s it going?” And the man replies that although he can see, his sight is still blurry — the people look like trees walking around. And so Jesus does it again … finally getting it right? Good question.
Was Jesus not firing on all cylinders in this healing? Did Jesus need to attempt it the second time to get it right? I don’t think so.
I think Jesus was demonstrating a truth about healing: it’s more often than not a process that takes time and is not just about once and for all eliminating the problem.
What is healing? It’s more an approach to living with the problem rather than denying it or fighting against it.
Healing is not about Jesus coming to us in order to rid our lives on earth from any suffering whatsoever. Otherwise he wouldn’t be ordering everyone he healed to be quiet about it. Otherwise he would have cured everyone’s diseases while on earth.
Jesus was more about opening the way for all people to be made whole through the Cross and the empty tomb. Jesus still carried his wounds in his side, hands and feet — even in his resurrected body! This is important!
We are made whole when our wounds no longer define us, defeat us and cause us to harm ourselves and another. We experience healing when our wounds help us to stay humble, patient, honest and more open to trust. “Ephathah” — the beautiful word spoken by Jesus means: “Be opened!” Healing is an openness of heart, regardless of our circumstance of suffering.
And finally, our wounds — when undergoing healing in Christ — develop in us a compassion toward the weaknesses, woundedness and sufferings of others.