Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31-37)
For me, one of the most beautiful parts of baptism is Ephphatha. It’s that moment when I touch an infant’s mouth and ears, and pray: “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.’
It comes of course from today’s Gospel. This is the second time that Jesus has ventured into Gentile territory. Friends bring a deaf and mute man forward and Jesus performs still another healing.
As I reflected on this Gospel, I am reminded how all of us need healing . . . healing of both heart and mind. Healing that governs the words from our mouth and the actions of our hands.
Ears represent our ability to receive sounds that are liable to influence the way we think, feel and act. Mouths represent the ability to ‘put out messages’ that have an impact on the lives of others.
Our nation today is stained by harsh words and vitriol. Too many minds and hearts are already closed. We judge. We don’t consider. We spit out unkind words. Our mouths are not used to form words of kindness.
Part of that abnormal behavior is because of our intake of media matter which shapes our thoughts and words better or for worse- morally, spiritually. We have to question what we are doing to ourselves through our media intake; what we are doing to others through our media output. In both cases it could be a lot of good or it could be a lot of harm.
But that’s an excuse.
God has given all of us a healthy desire to give and receive love. That is how we are formed at birth. A parent’s love should foster that and see it grow.
When Jesus opens the man’s ears and his mouth, he is giving a sign of the love of God. Even when our hearts are closed and our world has shrunken, Jesus enters into our lives with his love. All we are asked to do is to allow him to enter into our hearts, to say to us: “Be opened”. It is his love that becomes our reality, and we learn to live in a new environment; that of the spirit who is love. That is what our Christian faith calls us to.
Why? Why are so many bottled up with prejudice, condemnation, even hate? Because of the media? Think again? Because of politics? Think again? Because of the state of the nation? Think again.
We have allowed – we – have allowed darkness to take hold in our heart. Instead of His light filling our lives, we have retreated from it. The more we retreat, the darker it grows. The darker it grows, the more bleak it seems.
We need to let go before the cancer of darkness dominates our lives.
No problem or burden was too much for Jesus’ careful consideration. The Lord treats each of us with kindness and compassion and he calls us to treat one another in like kind. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us enables us to love as Jesus loves.
Are we willing to let go? Think about it.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with love and compassion. Make me attentive to the needs of others that I may show them kindness and care. Make me an instrument of your mercy and peace that I may help others find healing and wholeness in you.”
We have control of our minds, hearts, words and actions. It is a moral, spiritual choice. We may be inclined, enticed or tempted to imbibe material which is spiritually ‘unfit for human consumption.’ At baptism the ears are blessed that we may choose to receive the ‘godly word’ and reject the ungodly one. Our mouths are blessed that we may communicate to others godly words that are truthful, charitable and inspiring and resist the temptation to lie, mislead, and talk nastily about others.
God knows, even if we don’t, how much we all need healing and restraining in the wonderful, awful world, of inter-personal and mass-communication! What a challenge we have to take this seriously and encourage others to do so!