“Be thou opened,” Christ commands, in the Gospel of today’s (Old) Mass, from the seventh chapter of Mark. And immediately the ears were opened, of the deaf mute, “and the string of his tongue was loosed.” The same would be a miracle if the rest of us could be cured of this condition, and Christ would put his fingers into our ears to clear them, and touch our tongues with His spittle; for then we might, as the Bible saying goes, “speak right” — a skill which first requires good hearing. Speak to be heard when there is an occasion.

The deaf mute was brought to Him, but in curing the man, Christ took him a little away from the crowd. The detail of the saliva is meant to arrest our attention — a salvation that is “mouth to mouth” — deeply invoking the Sacrament, as well as performing the mysterious Act of Baptism. We are taken aside, we are given this gift of audition. We are freed from the constricting mental box in which we have been hiding; and suddenly it is conceivable that a deaf mute will hear and proclaim.

A curiosity of today’s Mass, it seems to me, is that it offers one formula after another for possible use in a grace at table, beginning with the beautiful Collect:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuae, et merita supplicum excedis et vota: effunde super nos misericordiam tuam; ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit, et adjicias quod oratio non praesumit. Per Dominum nostrum.

“Almighty and everlasting God, whose abundant goodness exceeds all that Your supplicants can desire or deserve; pour Your mercy upon us, forgiving us the sins of which our consciences are afraid, and adding to us what we dare not ask. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

It would be good if we could let Christ into our homes. And here I am thinking not only for meals, but as part of the whole daily routine, or ritual. (More on this tomorrow; I shan’t go from sublime to ridiculous today.)

A pious old widow lady suggested this (husband dead, children grown and moved away): that she cleans house now for a Houseguest instead — for the Holy Spirit Who abides, and for Her Lord in the day that He will come for her. She does not want to be caught out, or the door to be locked against Him. She hopes He will find Himself expected.

“Nor dog nor cat” she is keeping, in her spry eighties; nor tenant; and these kids today, they move too far to drop in for a meal. And so perhaps a little lonely; but she knows it is a passing phase.