I wonder, after today’s piece from Mark’s gospel, what it would have been like if Jesus’ self-imposed secret had been kept? If the silence he asked for, and kept asking for, had, in fact, been respected? Could it all have turned out differently in the end? Would the crowds have been more loyal at the end? Might his message have found a deeper home among the faith of his fathers? Would his reception by the authorities have been somewhat warmer, somehow less confrontational, in some way less lethal? If his silence had been kept?
You can only wonder. And wonder for yourself too. How do I hear him—today, this evening, now—how do I hear him and do I keep his words the way he wants or do I run my own way with them, even in good faith, somewhere he doesn’t want them to go?
There’s an irony that I’m sure Mark intended today. Here’s Jesus imposing secrets while praying for openness. Unstopping the man’s ears and loosening his tongue while asking his witnesses to bind theirs. Maybe Jesus knew it too. Maybe that’s why he groaned as he looked up to heaven and gave that wonderful word of command: be opened.
It’s not that the onlookers are malicious—any more than I might be—it’s just that they think they know better than Jesus what’s good for him. He orders them to hold their tongues but the more he insists the more they publish his healings. They hear but only half hear—they hear but fail to honour.
Jesus might be mighty powerful but he doesn’t always get what he wants—then or now. We are only half-opened to his words and his ways. And who knows how it might turn out this time if we could hear and hear—and hear him right.
I can feel his fingers in my ears. Taste him on my tongue. And see the groan on his lips as he prays again—for me, for you: be opened.