Deaf and Mute No More

Mark 7: 31-37
1Kgs 11:29-32,12:19 / Psa 81

…his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
(Mark 7:35)

Once I was deaf and full of fear,
I was mute and my spirit weak…
But Christ opened my ears to hear
God’s Word which now I boldly speak.

Then 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 Jesus to place His hand on him. 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 way our Lord healed the demon-possessed daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman in Tyre was markedly different in the case of the deaf-mute man in Sidon, both of whom were in pagan territories. In the case of the former, who was in the grip of a supernatural power, Jesus merely spoke a few words, without even seeing the “patient”. But in healing the deaf-mute, Jesus applied a more intimate procedure, taking the man aside, sticking His fingers into the man’s ears, then using His spit to touch the man’s tongue! Why all these rituals?

My reflection on the message that our Lord Jesus is imparting here is about the idea of ears being opened, and tongue being loosened – for us to see how God has freed us from the chains of sin that once bound us, and given us the ability to speak out the Good News of Christ’s salvation. The deaf-mute’s healing was akin to a prediction of what the Holy Spirit would be doing when the Church’s evangelization spread the Gospel to all peoples (the Gentiles). Those who were formerly “deaf” to God’s Word now listen as others who were once mute or unyielding because of past sinful lives now give witness to how the Gospel has transformed them, and they testify to the power of God’s love.

We have all been called to be ministers of God’s Word when our eyes and ears were opened and the Holy Spirit emboldened us to open our lips to proclaim the Good News at home, in our workplaces, and in our community. Almost all of us in the renewal took that crucial step in our lives when we accepted the invitation of a good friend or close relation to a prayer meeting, a bible sharing session, or a Christian breakfast meeting. If only more laymen would respond to God’s call to minister, our population would become more prayerful, our cities more peaceful, and lives more meaningful. Jesus has opened our hearts and minds. Are we willing to reciprocate by employing the gifts we have received to open other deaf hearts and mute minds as well?

Jesus is our Model to follow if we are willing to become ministers of God’s Word. In this Gospel passage, He shows us that we must first of all be compassionate, as He responded in a very personal way to a helpless man’s need. We must be prayerful, as Jesus constantly prayed to the Father for guidance. 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 eyes and ears to receive 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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