“Ephphatha!” “Be opened!”

By Fr. Aldo, sx

The Gospel of today narrates the healing of a deaf-mute man. A deaf-mute person is someone unable to relate normally with others due to the incapacity to hear what is said and also to speak out… how could one speak of what he or she never heard? Therefore this man represents a person who lives isolated, closed in his or her own world. Let us also keep in mind that during the time of Jesus all diseases were seen as a punishment, but deafness was really a curse, because it prevented the person from listening to the word proclaimed in the synagogues.

In the Gospel of Mark therefore this man acquires a symbolic meaning: he represents all those who have their ears closed to the Word of God. St. Paul says that faith does not come through apparitions or messages brought by angels, but “Faith comes by listening to the Word of God” [Rom 10:17].

The deaf-mute represents the one who has either never listened to the Word because nobody has ever proclaimed it to him or her or because he or she never allowed the Word to penetrate his or her heart. This person is closed to the grace of God and cannot celebrate the salvation of God, for he or she lacks the experience of faith.

Jesus lived in a time in which to a great extent the entire people of God had become deaf. They were not giving ears to the Word of God spoken through the prophets. As a consequence God’s people became incapacitated of carrying on their mission of communicating God’s salvation to all the peoples.

By healing the deaf-mute Jesus teaches that a new dialogue in between heaven and earth has begun. Jesus unblocks the ears of both Jews and gentiles so that all can hear the Word of God, and more, all can welcome the Word in faith, all can become announcers of this Word.

We would surely be behaving like deaf people if we refuse to listen to the Word of God that challenges us to abandon certain habits; change certain wrong attitudes; journey through the path of faithfulness, goodness and generosity. We are also deaf if don’t give ear to the cry of the poor and victims of injustices. We are mute when we refuse to proclaim the Good News, when we are ashamed to declare that we do not agree with the not-so-evangelical-choices of our friends, family members or even brothers in the community.

Deaf mute is also the one who thinks that he or she already knows everything and possesses the whole truth and has nothing more to learn. This kind of person would tend to live closed in his on world unable to establish relationship with others based on dialogue, contributing to others and also open to learn from them.

Therefore, the healing of today points to the basic principles of dialogue: to listen and to speak. Dialogue is the way to establish meaningful relationships among ourselves; dialogue is the way of leading people to faith; dialogue is the way in carrying out the missionary activity of the Church among other cultures and religions.

Dialogue is possible and is fruitful only when there is genuine openness in the minds and hearts of the people engaged in it. Thus, the importance of Jesus’ cry: “Ephphatha! Be opened!”

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