In this Sunday’s readings we have the promise that gives hope, 1st reading, and in the Gospel, Jesus fulfils that hope when he heals a deaf person with speech impediment. “Ephphatha”, he tells him, which means, “Be opened!” Let’s see how this word comes to open the hallways of our life.
Bible readings Isaiah 35: 4–7 Psalm 146: 7–10 James 2: 1–5 Mark 7: 31–37
Promise of hope
Note how the promise in the first reading focuses specially on persons of physical handicap: the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the dumb. Not only do these people suffer from their handicap but they are also discriminated and excluded. With their situation somewhat permanent, they hardly see how they can get out of their predicament. So, we can appreciate how low the people of Israel sunk, losing their hope. They just couldn’t imagine getting free and leaving the land of exile. However, the promise is expressed in terms of images that allude to rebirth and abundance, contrary to the feeling of death and scarcity experienced in the land of exile. Yes, outlets will be created to enable the people to move on. Indeed, aren’t there times in our lives when we feel somewhat heaped up and walled? In such moments we yearn for someone to open a way out for us.
Image of oppressed people
When we look at the promise and its fulfilment, the condition of deaf and dumb highlighted. What could that mean? Well, a person who’s deaf and dumb is somehow bound and excluded so that his healing is deliverance. No wonder, we often refer to oppressed people as those who are deprived of the freedom of speech; they can’t express themselves. Then, we can understand how important the freedom of expression is, though mistakenly narrowed to leaving journalists to publish whatever they like. No, freedom of speech is not about journalists; but about leaving a human person free to air out his views and thoughts. And how does Jesus fulfil this promise?
Messianic signs that open doors for all
In the Gospel, Jesus leaves Tyr, today’s Lebanon, and goes to Decapolis, that is, ten towns in the East of the Jordan. It’s the land inhabited mainly by non-Jews, like in Tyr where Jesus has just healed the daughter a Canaanite woman. Surely, Jesus breaks the barriers to bring the light of the Gospel even to those people locked in the shadow of darkness. Indeed, the Gospel, which is the fulfilment of God’s promise, knows no boundaries for every person is a partaker. And no situation we may be in is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
Any deafness and dumbness in us?
The pagan towns where Jesus goes is the land of darkness not yet penetrated by the light of the Gospel. It’s there he meets this isolated person who can’t hear and speak correctly. What a handicap! No wonder Jesus sighs. But, are we untouched by such human misery?
Well, though we are Christians, yet, there may still be in us this pagan region; the shadowy part not well illuminated. Similarly, there may equally be a deaf and dumb person locked up in such sombre region, for at times not only are we deaf to God’s word but also to the cry of those around us. That’s why Jesus comes and shouts out to each one of us: “Ephphatha” -be opened, as a gesture of re-creation and release from bonds that hamper us from leading a fulfilled life as humans.
It’s interesting what Jesus does before healing this person. He takes him aside away from the crowed, and there he operates the healing. Perhaps, it may be important for us in the busy schedule of our daily preoccupation to find a quiet time and a quiet place we can be alone in intimacy with Lord and allow him to touch us heal with healing hand. And once healed, we are called to be missionaries of healing to those who are still in bonds. So, each one can ask oneself:
What’s the impact of my touch on others?
Not every touch is healing. In fact, there are different ways to put hands on someone. In some cases, it may be a way of getting hold of someone, that is, controlling and manipulating them. We may use our knowledge, money, power or our position in order to control and silence a person. That’s how some people have lost their freedom -they have no word. Inspired by Jesus who comes to unbind us from our tethers and open new roads for us; then, we too can participate with gratitude in his mission of liberation. Then, we can echo his words: “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed” (Lk4:18). Before we can arrive at, we may need, from deep down within us, to be sympathetic with those who suffer. That is, to be able to sigh, as Jesus does, with our brothers and sisters who sigh in pain.
Thank you, Jesus, for open doors in my life. Give me also to open a door for someone today.
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