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Open My Heart!
Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for this opportunity to reflect on these words today. I want to value this unique moment of grace you give me. Allow me to stay focused and prayerful so that I may grow in love for you more today than yesterday.
- Community Advocates: The deaf man in this Gospel passage was blessed before he even encountered Jesus because he was a member of a community—good people brought him to Jesus. Introducing others to Christ and sharing his love in mutual support is the ultimate purpose of Christian communities. “In many societies, we are experiencing a profound poverty of relationships as a result of the lack of solid family and community relationships… This kind of poverty can be overcome only through the rediscovery and valuing of fraternal relationships in the heart of families and communities, through the sharing of joys and sorrows, of the hardships and triumphs that are a part of human life (Pope Francis, 12/8/13).
- Isolated: Jesus separated this man from the crowd (his community). He brought the man “off by himself.” We can draw some inspiration from this story when we’re feeling lonely, isolated, or even ostracized. The Gospel says that the deaf man was “by himself,” but in fact, Jesus was with him. And Jesus is always with us, even in our loneliest moments. What does Jesus do besides accompany us? He strives to heal and restore us. Jesus wants to give us ears to hear his word and lips that speak his praises. He wants us to become the best version of ourselves, and he will accomplish it for us if we let him.
- Machinations: Jesus could have cured this man by silently willing so, but, instead he used his fingers, spit, and groaned, “Ephphatha!” The crowd was probably too far away to perceive any of this, so his actions weren’t for their benefit. Perhaps the man himself needed to hear Jesus’s plea, “Be opened.” According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “‘Ephphatha—Be opened,’ sums up Christ’s entire mission. He became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others.”
Conversing with Christ: Lord, open my heart with your healing touch. I want to know and love you more deeply. In many areas of my life, I am deaf and mute. I cannot witness to your loving presence or participate fully in Christian community when I am in need of such restoration. Send your spirit and open my heart!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reach out with a loving gesture to one person whom I resist in my heart.
For Further Reflection: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s complete Angelus address, Sept. 9, 2012.
Written by Maribeth Harper.