Sunday, September 9
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
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 and the mute speak.”
In today’s Gospel, we see an example what modern Scripture Scholars have labeled, “The Messianic Secret!” This happens often where Jesus performs a miracle and then, “He ordered them not to tell anyone.” Jesus has not fully revealed Himself to be the Messiah, so others see him still as simply a man with unusual skills. His miracles would get in the way of His true mission on earth – to provide salvation to us all. Today, we can see Jesus as more than simply a “light show” or entertainment. But this miracle as with all of Jesus’ healings, there is more going on here than a physical healing.
In our Catholic Baptisms rituals, there is an “Ephphatha” rite, where the priest or deacon touches the baby’s ears and mouth that one day they may hear the word of God and on another day, they may speak it. All the Baptized are so instructed and burdened. We all need to have our ears opened so that we can hear and understand in its fullness the message of Jesus. In addition to that, once we have heard and understood, the natural consequence is that we go out and speak openly to the world about what we have heard and understood. Both hearing and speaking are inseparable for the Christian disciple.
As in today’s Gospel, when we have truly experienced the power of that message and the love of God in our own lives, we cannot but do what that man did – broadcast it far and wide. With all the added drama and evolving consequences of the Church’s sex abuse crisis affecting each of us, this is the time to listen more than ever to the Word of God and to preach it to others. While it may be more prudent to hunker down and lay in the weeds waiting for this crisis to blow over, it is our time to proclaim that Jesus’ Church is more than a “light show,” more than a crisis in the hierarchy, more than a silencing of our moral voice in a world without Objective Truth. It is a time to reflect that our ears and eyes are open and the Truth and hope of the Gospels remain and are needed – now more than ever.
Deacon Don Poirier