Divine Pity

Christ Pantocrator, 13th century Serbian icon

14th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday (Year II)

Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13; Psalm 115; Matthew 9:32-38

A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees [who could speak] said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”

The bracketed words were inserted to highlight the strange irony in this healing episode. The man diagnosed as mute by a demon had his faculty of speech and communication restored. Spontaneous gratitude for the restoration of a brother was the natural response, but the Pharisees could not care less about him; their hearts were fixated entirely on maligning Jesus.

The Pharisees were not clinically “demon-possessed,” but evil cloaked in righteousness, intelligence, and honor was far more dangerous to Jesus than the obviously deranged type. With pity and compassion, many demoniacs were healed, but only a few religious leaders showed openness to healing and conversion. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea risked unpopularity by standing with Jesus. 

Idol makers “have mouths but speak not” and “eyes but see not,” according to the Psalmist (115:5). The physically mute and blind, Jesus healed and forgave, but idolaters who set up their own egos in the place of the Holy Spirit spoke and saw only lies (Matthew 12:32), becoming thereby spiritually mute and blind. “Cast away your calf!” Hosea cried. 

Seeing the state of religion in his day, Jesus’ “heart was moved with pity” for the crowds “because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” He taught his disciples, the first leaders of the Church, to see with his eyes, and feel with his heart, the abundant harvest. May all laborers in the vineyard of the Lord be anointed with divine pity, mercy and love. 

-GMC

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