In the gospel Jesus goes into the region of the Decapolis, a confederation of ten cities located to the east of the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River. On a previous visit to the region, Jesus had cast an evil spirit out of a man into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:1-20). The fellow “went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him.” It may have been his witness which motivated the people in today’s gospel bring a deaf-mute man to Jesus.
Jesus stuck his fingers in the man’s ears, put his spittle on the man’s tongue, looked heavenward, groaned and shouted. Jesus had the power to heal with his word alone, but openness in faith on the part of the one in need was necessary for that healing to take effect. Recall that Jesus could not heal many people in his hometown of Nazareth due to their lack of faith, and that Jesus frequently told those he had healed, “Go in peace, your faith has saved you.” The rather strange actions Jesus performed were apparently necessary for the deaf-mute to believe Jesus knew what he was doing and could really heal him.