Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’
Jesus said to the deaf man who had an impediment in his speech: ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’
I recently heard a famous author being interviewed about his work. One of the questions the interviewer asked was about how that author had begun his journey towards being published. The writer’s response was, I suspect, quite typical of those who have found favour with the public through the stories they construct and tell. He talked about his inner conviction that he could write, and his feelings of insecurity. He talked of all the advice he had received, and all the books on technique he had read. Then he talked of the day he was sitting at his desk feeling bored. It was then that he realised that he had to set aside all the advice, all the reading and all the fear, and just get on with it. On that day he picked up a pen and started writing.
Today we hear of a man who was deaf and who also suffered from a speech impediment. We know nothing of that man’s history. We do not even know his name. But, we do know that others, we might presume his friends, brought him to Jesus for healing. We also know that Jesus did open his ears and free his tongue with the words: Ephphatha … Be opened.Then we are told of the story that that man, and his companions, had to tell. Despite Jesus ordering them to tell no one, they zealously proclaimed what had happened. Their faith in coming to Jesus was rewarded, and then it found voice as they proclaimed the Good News to all.Too often we are like the tongue-tied author and the deaf man whose speech was also impaired. We know that we are called to proclaim the Good News, to tell the story of Jesus Christ, but we remain silent. We describe our reluctance to preach and teach as faithful disciples as ‘writer’s block’, or ‘shyness’, or even the ‘calling of others’. But these are just excuses. We all have a best-selling and life-affirming and changing story to tell. Even if we do not consider ourselves to be accomplished writers or speakers, we are called to tell the story of Christ in our own words. We are all called to listen carefully as Jesus says to us: Ephphatha … Be opened, and then we are called to proclaim that Good News from the rooftops!