23rd Sunday- Be Opened (Mark 7:31-37)
“EPHPHATHA (ἐφφαθά) – which means – be opened” is the main message of all the three readings today. The Israelites were afraid that God would not come to their rescue, but Isaiah told them not to “give up hope,” because the Lord is always with us. God will not come to judge or to punish, but will come as a giver of reward for all, and God will bring life to all.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus healed a deaf man; by the loving touch of Jesus, he was healed. Like the deaf man, we all have our own deafness, and we all need healing. We need Jesus’ loving touch, and we need Jesus to open our ears and hearts. Jesus will always treat us with compassion and love. Jesus’ compassionate touch should help us to hear the cries of the poor and their suffering. Our Pope Francis is the best example for us by his love and compassion for the poor, suffering, and sinners. The challenge for us is to show our kindness and compassion to our brothers and sisters as Jesus did for us!
Jesus is sensitive to our feelings of being helpless and to the dark moments of our lives. In certain unexpected situations and crises times, we are helpless and frightened; and we experience and feel blindness and deafness. Only God can rescue us from these moments of our lives by God’s loving and compassionate touch. Only God can set us free from our spiritual blindness and deafness. “Be opened” is a friendly recall from God to each of us to come home and enjoy God’s tender and caring love. Let us ask ourselves: “What are the areas we need to be more opened?”
The ordinary people brought the deaf man to Jesus and asked for healing. The deaf man may not have known who Jesus was or that Jesus was in the area. The deaf man did not seek healing or change. He was probably comfortable and satisfied with the situation in which he lived. He did not expect to be touched by Jesus or to have his life changed. Like these ordinary people, we too are called to bring others to Jesus by witnessing our lives through acts of charity and prayer. Let us ask ourselves: Do we try to help others speak? Do we try to help others hear? Do we bring others to Jesus?
Sometimes, we too are like this deaf man; we are satisfied and comfortable with the situations of our lives, and we do not want any changes or healing. There are many of us who can hear and see well, but sometimes we pretend to be deaf and blind because we do not want to listen and respond to the realities of life. We do not want to face any challenges in our lives!
The other thing we can notice in the gospel is that Jesus took a deaf man away from the noise of the crowd, where Jesus could speak to him alone and his ears were opened in the silence. In our lives, too, we must cultivate the holiness of silence; and then only we are able to hear God’s voice. St Mother Teresa says, “In the silence of the heart, God speaks.” A reporter asked St. Mother Teresa, “What do you and your sisters in the community say to God when you gather together for prayer? Mother Teresa replied, “We say nothing. We just listen” “Oh!” The reporter sighed. “What does God say to you then?”. Mother Teresa, with a twinkle in her eyes, replied, “Nothing. God just listens.” Our Pope Francis is also saying to us that we need prayer and silence during crisis times.
So, let us pray today for the gift of listening, to hear the voice of God calling us to change. Change comes from listening, but change is a challenge; and so, we hear God saying to each of us, “Do not be afraid, things are going to be better if you hear who you really are.” Let us “Be Opened”- to the grace of God!