The Gospel today tells the rather earthy story of Jesus curing a deaf man with a speech impediment. I love the details of this story.
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!’)”
Notice that Jesus takes the man away, off by himself. There’s a tenderness, a respect, a privacy, given to this man. The man is not a spectacle. This cure isn’t for show, a piece for Jesus’ resume, a deed done to gain clicks.
The cure is remarkably sacramental. It is not done from afar, though Jesus has shown himself fully capable of doing miracle that way. Rather, this includes a tangible encounter between Jesus and the man. He uses part of Himself to be a conduit of this grace. He gives a very piece of Himself to the man, showing His humanity (God has saliva!) and using that gritty, earthy, humanness to transform this man’s life.
As we approach the Lenten season, I can recognize myself in this deaf man with the speech impediment.
I do not hear the Lord. He is speaking to me through the needs of my neighbor, through my responsibilities in my vocation, and through the obedience I owe to my superiors and leaders. I do not hear Him, because I’m too busy, too self-absorbed, too proud.
I do not listen to the Lord. Remaining stubbornly in my bad habits or clinging to my comfortable sins, I ignore His instruction.
I speak of Him, but often unclearly. When my actions do not match my words, I give false testimony to the beauty of his Gospel.
But there’s no reason to give up hope. As long as I’m willing to recognize my shortcomings and sins, I can stand before Him and ask for his healing. He is tenderly standing before me, ready to take me to Himself and touch my shortcomings. He does not shirk from them; they do not scandalize Him. If I am willing to show them to Him, He is ready to heal.
Jesus stands before us and cries, “Ephphatha! Be opened!”
May I be open to what he wants to do in my life this Lent. May I be quiet enough to hear, humble enough to listen, and resolved to speak of what He has done.
How is he calling you to hear, listen, and speak? Be opened!
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