This line appears at the end of the passage concerning the healing of the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment.
This line appears at the end of the passage concerning the healing of the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. Jesus was in the region of the Decapolis and, as always, the news had gone before him and everywhere he went he was met by people who wanted to be healed, or by those bringing a loved one to him for the same purpose. We are told here that Jesus took this man off to the side, alone, away from the crowd. He put his fingers in the man’s ears, spat and touched the man’s tongue, ʺthen he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’)ʺ At that, the man could hear and speak. It was then that Jesus told him to tell no one about what had happened.
We can understand Jesus’ reason for telling the man not to tell anyone. He was already overwhelmed with the supplications of the sick and the needy. Everyone needs a break from difficult labors at times. But Jesus would have known, of course, that when something like this happens to someone, it is nigh-on-to-impossible for that person not to tell others about his surprise, his unbelievable joy. Yes. Somehow, I think Jesus knew that this would not be kept as a secret for long. Indeed, as the scripture passage tells us, ʺBut the more he ordered them not to tell, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished saying, He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.ʺ Really. Who could contain such joy?
But there is a deeper message here too—as always. Do not our own ears need to ʺBe opened!ʺ? For example, how often do we hear and respond to the cries of the poor? How many times have we been so focused on our own problems, that we missed the opportunity to listen to the immediate needs of our children, our spouses, or the stranger sitting next to us on the bus? Jesus is not just speaking to those who are phyically deaf and mute here, but to each of us who, either intentionally or unintentionally, are deaf to the voices of pain, hurt, suffering, and despair around us.
In truth, are we not all in need of healing? When we are healed, should we keep that a secret? Implied in all of his healing miracles is the salvific mission of Jesus. The prophet, Isaiah, spoke of the time of salvation as being marked by deeds such as those Jesus is doing here. (See: Isaiah 26:19; 29:18-19; 35:5-6; and 61:1) As Christians we live in the paradox of Salvation history. We know our need for healing, and we have experienced it through the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. And because of this, we have also been commissioned to go out and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world.
Because we have been healed; because we continue to be healed by the unconditional love of Jesus; because our deafness and our muteness has ʺbeen opened;ʺ and because we have been freed from the binding chains of selfishness, and pride, we can humbly and joyfully go out to tell the whole world about the joy of salvation.
Lord, let my ears always be open to your whisperings, both from within and without. Help me to always be open to the needs of others, and willing to serve them joyfully. I pray in your name, Jesus. Amen