And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then 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 deaf man in today’s Gospel experiences Jesus’s healing in a powerful way. Before meeting Jesus, he was unable to fully participate in the life of his community. We see this in the way other people bring him before Jesus—they have heard the buzz about this miracle-worker, but the deaf man has not. His deafness leaves gaps in his awareness of the world, but Jesus opens his ears so that His voice might resonate within them.
More important than our ability to hear in a physical sense is our ability to hear spiritually, to listen to God’s voice. In our human weakness, we have a tendency to allow the noise of the world to overpower the voice of God. When we have grown deaf to God’s Word, we are unable to speak it clearly. Our spiritual speech impediment will hinder us from preaching the truth.
Jesus seeks to heal our deafness and open our ears to hear His voice, and the first step He takes in our healing is to draw us away from the crowd. He wants our full attention, so that when He finally breaks through the silence, the first and only sound we will hear is His “Ephphatha!” With that, our hearts will be opened to receive His love, and our spiritual impediment will be removed.
In what ways is Jesus guiding us away from the crowd today? Where does He want us to meet Him? He longs to heal our deafness, that we might understand the words of love He speaks to us.
Image: Bartholomeus Breenbergh, Jesus healing a deaf-mute / PD-US