MARK 7:32-37 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.” THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD, today, Sunday’s Gospel Reading at Mass.
(By Father Robert Barron) MARK’S STORY of Jesus healing the deaf man with a speech impediment is a masterfully crafted icon of evangelization. The man in question is from the Decapolis: the region of the “ten cities” outside the realm of Israel. The inhabitants of this area would be relatively unfamiliar with the Word of God, deaf to it. Never having heard the Word of the Lord, they were, consequently, unable properly to articulate it. Hence the man from the ten cities, insufficient in both hearing and speech, is an apt symbol of the “Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears and groaned, “EPHPHATHA” which means, “Be opened!” It is as though the Word made flesh plugged himself into the man, establishing a sort of electric current which carried the Word to his mind and heart. This is the process of evangelization, whereby a personal connection to Jesus is effected and a soul becomes opened to the truth. Immediately, the man could hear, and his tongue was loosened, and he spoke plainly. Once someone hears the Word of God clearly, he is able to speak it to others with clarity and conviction: the evangelized becomes, almost perforce, and evangelizer.
The call to Catholics today is to move, as Jesus did, into the Decapolis, into the region of those who haven’t heard the Word and hence cannot speak it. To the citizens of that realm, they have to shout, “EPHPHATHA!”
God bless you all!