GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
...and in that prophecy one of the ways you will know that the new exodus has come is that God is going to perform certain miracles, which includes making the deaf to hear, right. So I will just give you the key verses here, Isaiah 35:4-7, it says this:
Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
Okay, so you don’t have to look too hard to see the immediate significance of this prophecy for Jesus' action. First, Isaiah's prophesying the coming of God. What will happen when God comes? Well two key elements here are being described. The ears of the deaf are going to be unstopped and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy. So there we find a clue as to why Jesus heals the man in the way he does. Why does he put his fingers into the man's ears and say be opened? Because he is deliberately fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 35 that when God comes the ears of the deaf will be unstopped, they’ll be opened. Why does he touch the man's tongue, right? Well because he's deliberately fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 35 that the tongue of the mute, of the dumb person, will sing for joy, right, at the healing that they received. So this is a really fascinating prophecy. Of course it also mentioned the eyes of the blind being opened, we’ve seen that elsewhere in the gospel where Jesus heals the blind.
So what is Jesus doing? This is so crucial. Jesus is deliberately enacting in his own person the miracles that Isaiah said God would perform at the time of the new exodus. So the healing of the man who was deaf and mute isn't just a revelation of Jesus' messianic identity, it is that, the healing of the man who is deaf and mute isn't just a sign that the age of salvation has come, it is that, but the healing of the man who was deaf and mute is also a revelation of the divinity of Jesus. The healing of the man who was deaf and mute is also a revelation of the fact that what the Old Testament says God would do, Jesus now does himself.
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
.Now, this is very, very important to notice this. Although the RSV here has, “if a man comes into your assembly,” the Greek word is actually synagoguē
. And there’s a very apt English translation for synagoguē
, and it’s the English word synagogue. The English word synagogue is a Greek lone word. Sunagógé
means to come together, agógé
means to gather, so it’s a place where people gather together. It’s a gathering place; it’s an assembly. And it’s the term that was used — along with some other terms — for public gathering places for liturgical worship in Jewish communities. That’s what the synagogue was. It was a place where the Jews would gather to hear the Word of God spread, to hear it preached on by a rabbi or some teacher or elder, and then they would sing psalms and give worship to God — not sacrificial worship. That was reserved to the temple in Jerusalem, so they didn’t offer passover lambs in the synagogue or anything like that. It was what we would call a liturgy of the word only. They would have the liturgy of the word in the synagogue, and the liturgy of sacrifice would take place down the highway or down the road (depending where you lived) or across the sea (if you were in the Diaspora) at the temple in Jerusalem on a daily basis.
So what we see here — this is very, very important. James is giving evidence that whereas in the Gentile churches of St. Paul, the earliest gathering places for the Lord’s Supper and worship were in houses — like in Romans 16, Paul talks about churches meeting in people’s houses. So you had these house churches. Apparently, at least in the Jewish Christian communities that James is writing to, they worship in the synagogue. They’re gathering in the synagogue, and they’re assembling there … and some divisions were taking place amongst these believers, between the rich and the poor.
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