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)
Today’s scripture reveals again the tenderness of Jesus Christ. It also speaks to us about our lives today.
First, to the tenderness. Jesus acted in a way to address the needs of the man who was before him. He took the man aside, in private, away from the crowd so the two of them could be alone together. Then, because Jesus was aware that words were of no use in dealing with a person who could not hear, he employed the sense of touch. He gently placed his fingers in the man’s ear and touched his tongue. Jesus knew that this man required more than a powerful word of healing. He required privacy, sensitivity and a gentle touch. When Jesus sensed this and acted upon it, he was treating the man with kindness. He was appreciating what was going on inside of another person and adapting his own actions to meet that need.
That was, and is, a model for us. How often in our daily life, do we step outside of ourselves and into the life of another? Or are we so caught up in the noise of the world that we stay inside our shells and think only of our needs, our thoughts, our insecurities, our fears?
Stepping into the life of another to discern their needs, their wants, their hurts is an act of kindness. We show that that we value the other as much as we value ourselves. How important is it for us not to undervalue the importance of kindness? When was the last time you were kind? You make decisions with your spouse, give advice to your spouse. But when was the last time you tried to understand what was going on inside of your spouse? When did you see what he or she needed from you and tried to meet that need? To do so would be an act of kindness.
You provide for your children and give them guidance. When was the last time you tried to recognize their insecurities and take steps to assure them of their goodness, their value and their ability to succeed? To do so would be an act of kindness.
You work every day with co-workers, hopefully being fair and honest with them. But when was the last time you saw a potential in another worker and took the time to bring that gift to the surface and encourage a co-worker to grow and develop that ability? To do so would not be unimportant; it would be an act of kindness.
Now, there are many situations which require tough love. But as we live from day to day, we should not forget the power that comes from kindness. Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can read. Kindness can cut through hypocrisy and posturing. It can eliminate indifference and selfishness. How do we decide when to be challenging and when to be kind? A friend of mind is fond of saying, “Whenever in doubt, do the kind thing.”
That’s what Christians are called to do. We are called to have a deeper hearing, because of our faith, because we believe that God is real and active in our world. We do, after all, believe that God created us and all creation, and saw it as good. We do believe that God is active now in our world, saving it, bringing Good News to the poor and freedom to the oppressed. We do believe that God is intent on establishing a kingdom, a kingdom of goodness, love and peace.
If we believe these things, should we not be able to hear the sounds of that kingdom coming? Now I know it is possible for believing people to at times be pessimistic and fearful. I know that any one of us can be overcome with a feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. But there should always be a suspicion among believers that these negative attitudes, when they occur within us, are at least partly a result of our failure to hear the sounds of God’s activity around us.
Listen, he is around us and within us. He calls us to hear his voice and to speak the tongue of love and kindness. After all, “he does all things well.” Follow that example and be a person of kindness, of caring, of compassion. Judge not but instead peer inside another and be for that person, what God is to us.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, 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.”
What we believe, what we value, influences what we hear. Therefore, if we are not hearing any good news, not only do we need to open our ears; we need also to open our hearts. This is why Jesus in today’s gospel says to the deaf man, “Be opened.” We are that deaf man, because there are good things that we are not hearing. We need to believe that God will open us, that God can open us, that God can remove our deafness. We must trust that God can remove our hurt, our pride, our grief, our fear. We must believe that God is active, that God is in fact building the kingdom and making noise doing so.