Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him 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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus, by entering the pagan region of Decapolis, ventures beyond his “comfort zone.” He then takes the deaf-mute aside, and touches his ears and his tongue. Jesus next prays to the Father, intoning, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.” The ears of the deaf-mute are opened; the knot in his tongue is untied, and he begins speaking correctly. This Gospel not only relates a miracle, but also beckons us to “be opened.”
Often we are “closed in” on ourselves, being inhospitable or inaccessible, staying in our own “comfort zone.” Maybe our family is closed in, or our parish, our community, our country. This Gospel calls on us to “be opened” ourselves―to each other, our family, those we work with, those in our parish and community, and those beyond our “comfort zone.”
As I reflect on the word, “Ephphatha,” how will I “be opened” today to zealously proclaim the Word, and to serve the needs of others?
―George P. Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Chicago Chapter. He and his wife, Dorothy Turek, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and four grandchildren.
Lord God, touch our ears and our tongues, and lead us as you led the Twelve.
Hear our prayers for openness, and, as we pray, Ephphatha, may we too “be opened”