Breaking the Silence

Mark 7: 31-37
1 Kgs 11:29-32;12:19 / Ps 81

He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”).
(Mark 7: 34)

To His words let my ears be opened,
For His kingdom let my lips proclaim;
By His love may this heart be softened,
That my life may be known by His name.

Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to Him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Him to place His hand on the man. After He took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!” ). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more He did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31-37)

Reflection

The people who brought the deaf-mute to Jesus had only asked Him to lay His hand on the afflicted man, but after He took him aside, our Lord performed what seemed to be a ritual of some kind in healing the man. What was this all about? We recall that whenever Jesus healed, it was always after the afflicted person expressed his or her belief that he or she would be healed. A leper came to Him and begged Him, saying, “If you wish you can make me clean” (Mk.1:40). When He healed a paralytic, it was because He saw their faith, lowering him from the roof (2:5). A synagogue official named Jairus pleaded with Him to save his daughter who was at the point of death, (5:23) and the woman with a hemorrhage believed that she would be healed of her ailment if she but touched Jesus’ garment (5:28). But the man who was deaf and dumb was brought to Jesus without any inkling of what was going on. Obviously, he had not heard about Jesus and His miracles, and neither could he express his desire to be healed, being unable to speak. So our Lord had to perform the “rituals” to communicate to the deaf-mute that He was going to heal him, and needed his faith to be aroused. He put His fingers into the man’s ears to “tell” him that his hearing would be restored. He spit and touched the man’s tongue to let him know that he would soon be able to speak. He looked up to heaven to let the man know that His power to heal came from God, and He sighed deeply to make him realize that He was doing this out of compassion for him. The single word, “Ephphatha!” that Jesus uttered was meant to open his faith as well as his ears and his mouth.

Today’s Gospel passage inspires us to reflect on the idea that the Word of God is the most important message that we can hear, and yet many people still remain deaf to His call. Many of us have the ability to speak out the Good News of Christ’s salvation, but sadly, we prefer to be dumb for fear of being alienated in this secular world. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit’s work has spread the Gospel in many Charismatic communities. Those who were formerly “deaf” to God’s Word now listen as others who were once mute because of past sinful lives now break their silence as to how the Gospel has transformed them, testifying to the healing power of God’s love.

Jesus is our Model if we are willing to become messengers of God’s Word. He shows us that we must first of all be compassionate, as He responded positively to another’s need. We must be prayerful, as Jesus constantly prayed to the Father for guidance. We must get involved in a personal way, as Jesus touched the sick without holding back. And we must communicate positively, as our Lord expressed in words, casting out illnesses and evil with total faith in God’s mercy.

As You have opened our ears to listen to Your wisdom, and our hearts and minds to understand Your will, loosen our tongues and embolden us Lord to proclaim your Good News of salvation. Amen.

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