September 9, 2018: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Mark 7:31-37
Again Jesus 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 sand the mute speak.”
During the time that Jesus lived, it was taken for granted that people who had any impediment of mind or body were looked upon as being possessed by evil spirits. The man in today’s story was one such person. To be an outcast from society, because of his impediments, caused him much suffering and pain. Being ostracized from society must have been very lonely for the man. Jesus, in his loving compassion, seeing the plight of the man took him away from the crowd and touched him, saying the words, “Ephphatha,” “be open,” which cured him from both his blindness and his speech impediment. Before Jesus came to him I wonder, if he thought — “if only I didn’t have this weakness, I could be like others.” But, as we see, it was because of his weakness that Jesus touched the man in such an intimate and loving way.
There are times we too may feel like the man in the gospel, carrying burdens, or unseen difficulties that seem too hard to bear. In the difficulties of our lives, when we seem to be knocked to the ground, it is often the very thing that leads us into the loving embrace of God. We experience God touching us in ways we couldn’t have begun to imagine.
Who, among your family or friends might have need of your compassionate touch? How can you reach out to them today?