Thursday, September 9, 2018
The people brought to Jesus a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay His hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” – Mark 7:32-37
An intriguing detail in Mark’s account of this healing of a deaf man who struggled to speak … Christ looks up into heaven and Christ sighs. You would expect the word “prays” but it says that He “sighed“. Why did Christ sigh?
The crowd brings to Jesus a man deaf and near mute, asking Jesus to heal him. And for some reason, Jesus then takes the man aside from the crowd for the sake of privacy. Why? Jesus orders the crowd to tell no one … but instead they proclaim this all the more zealously. Why did they not honor Christ’s request?
What was the intent of the crowd in bringing the deaf man? I think it may have been for the purpose of putting Christ to the test. Was this the cause of the sigh, this bringing of a deaf man to be healed not out of compassion but out of putting Christ to the test? I think this may be indeed the reason for the “sigh”. The crowd seemed to pay no mind to Christ’s request or even Christ’s command.
“Ephphatha” a word translated as “be opened” is the word Christ utters when he heals the man’s deafness and his ability to speak. Be opened! Again, an unexpected choice of words. Why not, “Be healed”? Or is this the very point of this teaching moment … “Be open, be self-revealing, be transparent with your motives, be open-hearted and open-minded, hear what I request and hear what I command, listen to my teaching!”
We tend to hide our motives. We tend to hide our wounds. We tend to hide our questions. We tend to hide our Inner Light. And we tend to hide our guilt and shame. And so Christ keeps sighing …”Be open.”
Always in Christ Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz