by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
September 3, 2012
Mark 7: 31-37
The healing of a deaf-mute in the pagan region of Sidon is narrated by Mark with clearly pedagogical intent. He is a very special sick man. He doesn't hear or speak. He lives enclosed in himself, without communicating with anybody. He doesn't realize Jesus is passing near him. Others take him to the Prophet.
Jesus' action is also special. He doesn't lay hands on him as they asked him to, but takes him aside to a place away from the people. There, he works intensely, first on his ears and then on his tongue. He wants the sick man to feel his healing contact. Only a deep encounter with Jesus could cure him of such tenacious deafness.
Apparently all that effort isn't enough. The deafness is resistant. So Jesus goes to the Father, the source of all salvation. Looking up to heaven, he sighs and cries out one word to the sick man, "Ephphatha", that is, "Be opened." It's the only word Jesus utters in the whole tale. It isn't directed at the ears of the deaf man but at his heart.
Undoubtedly, Mark wants Jesus' word to resound forcefully in the Christian communities that read his tale. He knows more than one person who's deaf to the Word of God. Christians who aren't open to the Good News of Jesus, nor talk to anyone about their faith. Deaf-mute communities that don't listen much to the Gospel and communicate it badly.
Perhaps one of the greatest sins of Christians is this deafness. We don't take time to listen to the Gospel of Jesus. We don't live with hearts open to receiving his words. Therefore, we don't know how to listen patiently and compassionately to the many who suffer without receiving just someone's caring or attention.
Sometimes it's said that the Church, born of Jesus to proclaim Jesus' Good News, goes along its own path, far from the real life of worries, fears, travails and hopes of the people. If we don't listen well to Jesus' call, we won't be able to offer words of hope in the lives of the suffering.
There's something paradoxical in the some of the Church's discourse. Great truths are spoken and very positive messages proclaimed, but they don't touch people's hearts.
Some of this is happening in these times of crisis. Society isn't expecting "social doctrine" from specialists, but it's listening attentively for a thoughtful word, inspired in the Gospel and spoken by a Church that's sensistive to the suffering of the victims, that comes instinctively to their defense, inviting all to be near to those who need more help to live with dignity.