Homily of September 9, 2018, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Ephphatha, Be Opened
In today’s Gospel, Christ’s healing touch restores sound and speech enabling a man to hear and to speak plainly. In our Gospel, there is a very important and wonderful word used. The wonderful word here to the deaf man was of course the Aramaic “Ephphatha” or “Be opened”. Biblical experts tell us that this was the only word Jesus spoke in this Gospel. In its deepest meaning it sums up the whole message and the whole work of Christ. The Evangelist Mark writes it in the same language that Jesus pronounced it in, so that it is even more alive to us.
Because humanity is inwardly deaf and mute as a result of sin, God became man in the person of Christ so that we “become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to our heart, and learn to speak in the language of love.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican Radio, September 9, 2012)
We should make Ephphatha part of our own vocabulary whenever we run into situations where people are uptight. Specifically, we should say “Ephphatha” to the old who are closed to creativity and change, to all who have lost their sense of humor and turned sour and cynical, to co-workers so that they stay open to challenges and surprises, to ourselves so that we live with eyes open to God’s wonders, ears open to God’s wisdom, arms and hands open to hug and help and heal.
We should use Ephphatha in our houses, in our business places and wherever we go. The world proposes so many things for us to listen. When we listen to the trash all around us, we deafen our ear. Jesus is speaking every day to us. He wants us to open our heart. We must bear it in our minds that according to Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We must be able to respond like Samuel: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!” (cf. 1Samuel 3).
From healing this man, we learn that Jesus is very attentive to the needs of those around Him. He meets them and heals them. He does many wonder works but avoids public display or being praised. The ecclesial community ought to do the same. We are ambassadors of goodness, of mercy, of fraternity, of Christ’s affection; but we should never seek praise or recognition in the things we do. Such things, besides being unimportant, are a nuisance to our call; the call to follow Christ, to preach the good news of Jesus, to proclaim the values of the Kingdom, to work towards the construction of a more just world; that is what matters. Jesus’ attitude is a direct contrast to the practice of healing seen in our today’s healing miracles all advertised on TV Screens.
Christ is there to heal us! Ephphatha! Be Opened!
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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