Ephphatha!

“Ephphatha!”
A reflection on Mark 7:31-37
Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
©2022 by Gloria M. Chang

Again he left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. 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. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Mark 7:31-37

The deaf-mute represents all humankind in need of healing and divine truth. In a paradoxical world in which billions of media channels beguile the senses, ears are stopped up and tongues muted to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

St. Gregory the Great writes: “The Spirit is called the finger of God. When the Lord put his fingers into the ears of the deaf mute, he was opening the soul of man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

The wonderful work of Jesus in healing the blind, deaf, lame, and mute fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

Then the eyes of the blind shall see,
and the ears of the deaf be opened;
Then the lame shall leap like a stag,
and the mute tongue sing for joy.
For waters will burst forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the Arabah.

Isaiah 35:5-6

Healing by his body, breath, and word, the Incarnate Word sighed deeply in the Spirit and commanded in Aramaic, “Ephphatha!” (“Be opened!) The restorative action is reminiscent of the primal creation in which God blew into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). In the case of the deaf-mute, the orifices are the ear canals and mouth.

In an instant, the man’s ears opened to hear the sweet voice of his Savior, and his tongue loosened to praise the Lord. Jesus’ orders to say nothing about the miracle went unheeded.

I will praise you among the peoples, Lord;
I will chant your praise among the nations.

Psalm 57:9 (10)

Reference

1 St. Gregory the Great, Homilies on Ezekiel, Homily 10.

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