Then, looking up at heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.’’
Today’s gospel tells us of Jesus’ healing of the deaf man who could not speak. It’s a familiar story line in the gospels where Emmanuel reaches out, touches and is touched, and the healing power of God is unleashed.
Then, why, when I read it, did I struggle so to relate to it—to find words to reflect upon its message to me…to us? I don’t often struggle for words once I truly settle in and prepare to listen for God’s voice. But this time, it was different. And, then…
Imagine. The person healed was a man who could not hear or speak. What would that have meant for him? In today’s world, such disabilities are immensely difficult, but in the time of Jesus they would have been even more so. Being deaf and unable to speak resulted in virtual isolation from the community. This man had no access to the speech of others. The gateway to the stories of history and faith—most oral—was completely closed.
So, when Jesus healed him and spoke the words, “Be opened,” he literally tore down the walls that kept this man from the fullness of life. The door to life was opened by God. Now, he could hear the laughter, the silly spats, the sacred stories after having been blocked from doing so. Now, he could hear of God’s immense love for him.
“Be opened.” Those words keep echoing in my head. Why? I am able to hear. I am not blocked from access to God’s world. Or, am I? Oh, yes, I can hear—but do I listen, really listen to God’s voice calling to me?
Well, yes… Sometimes… But, gee, I am so-o busy. I only have so much time to listen, then I have so much to do. There is my work. Then, there are the needs of my teenage son. And, my recently widowed mother. And, my husband. And, my struggling friends. And, my church. And… Well, you know…life is too busy.
Too busy? Too busy for God—and the fullness of life as we are promised? Hmmm…I wonder…maybe I do have something in common with the deaf man. Maybe, I too am blocked off from all that God would have me hear…and do. Maybe, I too need Jesus touching me…and saying, “Be opened.”
May it be so.
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