Reflection by Angela Jendro
September 9th, 2018; 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of Mark 7:31-37 NAB
Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, to 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.”
“People brought to Him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged Him to lay His hand on him.” To have begged Christ, they must have loved the man dearly. Begging implies a kind of poverty and desperation. It can be hard enough to ask for help sometimes, but to beg can seem too humiliating to do. Jesus responds with such personal attention and care that it seems He too shares their concern that the man’s speech and hearing be restored.
This passage underscores the centrality of our relational nature – both our relationship with others and with God. Relationship depends upon communication. Clearly the people in this passage had communicated their love to the man through their actions and their expressions. However, they begged Christ to remove the barrier of deafness and the speech impediment so that they might share words with the man and receive them in return.
Truthful words can communicate our inner thoughts and feelings, a sharing of ourselves that can only be known if we choose to share it with others. Christ healed the man by restoring his ability to communicate and therefore enabling him to enjoy more freedom to relate to those he loved. Jesus went even further by connecting the man to God Himself. He took the man aside, physically touched him, and opened his ears to hear and his tongue to speak – both bodily and spiritually. Jesus, the Word of God, became man that we might have relationship with God. We can only know God’s inner thoughts and feelings if He chooses to share them with us verbally. Jesus is God’s incarnate communication. He desires to restore all of us to relationship with Him and with others. If we humble ourselves to beg Him to open our ears and free our tongues, He gives us hope in this passage that He will unite us at a deeper level than we can imagine to God and those we love.
|“If God is a dialogical unity, a being in relation, the highest creature made in his image and likeness reflects this constitution; thus he is called to fulfill himself in dialogue, in conversation, in encounter.” — Benedict XVI, Trinity Sunday, Genoa, May 18, 2008.|
- Jesus healed the man by touching him and praying for him. Consider the power of human touch, words, and prayer.
- Do you struggle with either hearing God or with speaking to God? Do you offer general prayers or do you really communicate with the Lord? How might you open yourself up to deeper communication with God?
- Is there a person you struggle communicating with? Why do you think that is? How might you repair the relationship and soften the communications?
- Consider the power of words to build up or break down a relationship. When was a time that someone’s words made a significant and positive difference in your life?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Which Scripture passage do you love the most? Write it down and post it where you will see it every day.
- Read one psalm a day. They are God’s words to you and beautiful words of prayer back to God.
- If there is someone you struggle with, place the relationship before God and beg Him to bless it.
- Intentionally think about the words you use each day this week. Ask Christ for self-control to guard against harsh, critical words. Ask the Holy Spirit to provide you with the right words to say to each person you meet in your day.
~ Written by Angela Lambert-Jendro © 2015