My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
In the Gospel reading that we just heard, once again we see the loving heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is traveling on his way and, as we just heard, some people bring to him a man who was born deaf and has a speech impediment. And Jesus looks on this man with compassion and — by his touch, by his tender mercy — he heals this man.
This is a personal encounter with Jesus. As we heard, Jesus “took him off by himself, away from the crowd.” And he healed him by placing his finger into the man’s ear and touching his tongue.
And this story today is unique, because the Gospel gives us the exact word that Jesus used, in his own language. As we heard:
He looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!”
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
The word, “Ephphatha,” as we just heard means, “be opened.” And this is what Jesus comes to do.
When Jesus heals someone in the Bible — it is a beautiful and gracious gift that he shows to that person. But in his love for this man who is deaf and mute, we have a sign of his love for every one of us.
And my dear brothers and sisters, we live in a society where it is harder and harder to hear the voice of God, harder to see his hand at work in our lives and in our world.
And sadly, not only that. It seems that, somehow, we get used to living without God. We do not hear God’s name in the news — in our politics, in our entertainment; at work or at school. We are like that deaf man in the Gospel. Society, in a sense, we are closing ourselves off from God. It is like we are “hard of hearing” when it comes to God.
And so Jesus comes into our lives, into this worldwhich seems to be without God — and he says to you and to me and to every man and woman, “Be opened!” Just as he says to that man today in the Gospel.
Jesus is our healer! He is our savior! He comes into our lives because we are lost without him. Closed in ourselves. Unable to hear his word of love, unable to respond to his call of love.
He comes to open our hearts to the reality of God, to his presence in our lives, to God’s love and the great plan that God has for each one of us.
We have to reflect on that because it’s so important. Because we are so busy and doing so many things. As often as we can, we need to stop and think of that beauty that I was talking about — of God’s presence in our lives.
When God enters into our life — suddenly our eyes are opened and we see the world in a new light. Our ears are opened and we can hear the voice of God speaking to us in the people we meet, in the circumstances of our life. Jesus makes us capable of seeing God’s presence and hearing his voice.
That is what the prophet is talking about in the first reading of today’s Mass. We heard the prophet of Isaiah crying out:
Here is your God!
He comes with vindication …
he comes to save you.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is the God we worship. The God who made us.
God’s love is a saving love. He creates because he loves us, and he redeems us because he loves us, each one of us personally.
This is how much God loves us. And like that man in the Gospel today — Jesus wants to us to open our hearts and our mouths to proclaim his love to every person.
We really need to ask for the grace to make God the center of our lives. His love needs to become the reason for our lives. the way see Jesus act — that is the way we should act. With mercy, with compassion, with love.
So my dear brothers and sisters, let us ask for that grace — to be open to the word of God. To the presence of God in our lives.
And let me say just one last thing: I think the Gospel today also reminds us of our baptism.
As we probably know, when someone is baptized, the priest makes the similar gestures as Jesus in today’s Gospel. The priest, when he’s baptizing a person, he touches the person’s mouth and ears — so we can hear the Word of God and proclaim it.
So today let us thank God for our Baptism and let us give thanks for the people in our lives who brought us to the sacrament of Baptism.
We are called by our baptism to go out and tell the world the good news that we know.
So let us try to do that in practical ways in our lives. One practical thing to do this week is to try to spend some time “listening” to the words of Jesus in the Gospel.
And also let us try to find ways to reach out to those in our society who feel excluded or closed off, like that man in the Gospel. By our actions, the way we do things with them — we listen, we care for other people, we serve them — let us try to open people’s hearts to the presence of God in their lives.
We probably remember that yesterday was the Feast of the Nativity of Mary our Blessed Mother — the birthday of our Blessed Mother, Mary. So let us feel her love this week. It is so beautiful to have Mary in our lives.
Let us ask her to intercede for us as we continue to follow her Son, so that every ear is opened to the word of God and every mouth is opened to proclaim him.
1. Readings: Isa. 35:4-7a; Ps. 146:6-10; James 2:1-5l Mark 7:31-37.