In the Gospel today we see how the presence of Jesus was a fulfillment of numerous prophecies. God did not just randomly decide to send his Son into the world, this was all part of God’s plan; a plan he began to reveal to the people of Israel through the prophets generations before Jesus. The prophets rarely gave the “when” and “how” of the Messiah, but they revealed the works by which he would be recognized. This is the case in our first reading this weekend in which Isaiah said; “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.” Throughout the Gospels Jesus fulfilled the prophecy as he opened the ears of the deaf and restored the speech of those with impediments, he also opened the eyes of the blind, healed the crippled, raised the dead back to life, and ultimately takes away our sins. This is so much more than what the people who heard Isaiah’s message expected. When we turn our hearts to God we always receive far more than we expect. This is was the experience of those in the Gospel today when they witnessed Jesus opening the ears of a deaf man and healing his speech impediment.
“Ephphatha!” It is with this word that Jesus healed the man in the Gospel. This is one of the few places in the Gospel that gives us the actual Aramaic word that Jesus spoke. It is translated as, “be opened” and it is with these simple words that the power of God flowed into the ears of this man and onto his tongue so that he could hear and speak plainly. Those who saw this were astonished at what they had seen. Jesus showed them that “all things are possible with God” even that which seems impossible. Jesus told them to keep quiet about what they had witnessed. Maybe he didn’t want people coming with the hope of seeing miracles while missing the message. Whatever the reason the more he told them not to tell others, the more they proclaimed it.
How often does Jesus say, “ephphatha” to us? He desires to heal the deafness in our ears, our hearts and our souls. The deafness that stands in the way of us truly hearing God’s words to us, or more accurately, being attentive to God’s voice in our lives. Are we open to God’s word that would have us change? or do we find ways to block his challenging words from truly entering and moving us to be grow in living our faith and in transformation so to be more and more like Christ? The Lord also desires to heal our imperfect speech that at times has us hesitate to proclaim the great things God has done for us. To open “open our lips” so that we might follow the example of Mary and, “proclaim the greatness of the Lord.”
The readings today can be described as somewhat nice readings that prophecy about the Lord and show us a nice healing he did. They are, however, much more for they challenge us to open ourselves up to the healing power of the Lord in our lives regardless of how beautiful and challenging this might be for us. May we have the grace to approach Jesus in faith and be open to his healing power, as well as the courage to embrace the challenges he presents us to change. Finally, may we trust in the words God places on our lips and proclaim them with confidence and boldness.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.