Groaning and Healing

How difficult will your healing be? Will it cause Jesus to groan?

Today’s Gospel is best understood in light of the First Reading from Genesis, in which we hear how the serpent tempted the woman, Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and then hid from God in shame. What does this Original Sin have to do with Jesus healing the deaf man of the Decapolis to the astonishment of those who witnessed it?

The cure worked by Jesus impels the people to say, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and mute speak.” These words echo Isaiah’s prophecy of the blessings the Messiah would bring to the people (Is 35:4-6, Wis 10:21). It is clear that Jesus is announcing and enacting the long-awaited Good News, the Good News first announced to Adam and Eve after the Fall. Jesus IS the Savior who will set things right again and usher in a new creation.

This work of re-creation and salvation begins when Jesus is enfleshed in Mary’s womb, and his humanity participates in a personal way in the miracles he performs. He speaks to the crowds, but he heals people one-on-one: he talks to them, touches them, uses his own spittle to touch their tongues or their eyes… His attention to each one of us is very personal. In this particular instance, Jesus could have cured the man from a distance with a word, but he chose to illustrate the personal nature of his attention to each of us and his own personal nature by taking the man aside, touching the broken parts of his body, and praying aloud for his healing.

As he works this healing, Jesus groans. This is certainly not because this task was difficult for him! Perhaps it was to show us the difficulty of healing of those who are spiritually deaf and dumb due to the effects of sin. Sin closes us off spiritually from God, from each other, and from our true selves, in much the same way that dumbness and deafness (and blindness) make interacting difficult on a physical level. But Jesus comes to save us and longs to heal us so that we can live in true union with God and with each other, and become our best selves, the selves we are created to be.

What is the condition for this healing? We must surrender to it, give God permission and opportunity to work on us and in us at prayer and work with grace to conform our wills to His glorious will for us. When we do this, as Pope Benedict XVI said, “we losing nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great… (Jesus) takes nothing away, and he gives you everything.”

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Deacon Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is