GOSPEL READING: Mark 7:31-37
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand upon him. 33 And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; 34 and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Meditation: How do you expect the Lord Jesus to treat you when you ask for his help? Do you approach with fear and doubt, or with faith and confidence? Jesus never turned anyone aside who approached him with sincerity and trust. And whatever Jesus did, he did well. He demonstrated both the beauty and goodness of God in his actions.
The Lord’s touch awakens faith and brings healing
When Jesus approaches a man who is both deaf and a stutterer, Jesus shows his considerateness for this man’s predicament. Jesus takes him aside privately, not doubt to remove him from embarrassment with a noisy crowd of gawkers (onlookers). Jesus then puts his fingers into the deaf man’s ears and he touches the man’s tongue with his own spittle to physically identify with this man’s infirmity and to awaken faith in him. With a word of command the poor man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
What is the significance of Jesus putting his fingers into the man’s ears? Gregory the Great, a church father from the 6th century, comments on this miracle: “The Spirit is called the finger of God. When the Lord puts his fingers into the ears of the deaf mute, he was opening the soul of man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
The transforming power of kindness and compassion
The people’s response to this miracle testifies to Jesus’ great care for others: He has done all things well. No problem or burden was too much for Jesus’ careful consideration. The Lord treats each of us with kindness and compassion and he calls us to treat one another in like manner. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us enables us to love as Jesus loves. Do you show kindness and compassion to your neighbors and do you treat them with considerateness as Jesus did?
8 Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
9 There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
10 I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would have none of me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
13 O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn my hand against their foes.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The touch of the Lord, by Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)
“That power which may not be handled came down and clothed itself in members that may be touched, that the desperate may draw near to him, that in touching his humanity they may discern his divinity. For that speechless man the Lord healed with the fingers of his body. He put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue. At that moment with fingers that may be touched, he touched the Godhead that may not be touched. Immediately this loosed the string of his tongue (Mark 7:32-37), and opened the clogged doors of his ears. For the very architect of the body itself and artificer of all flesh had come personally to him, and with his gentle voice tenderly opened up his obstructed ears. Then his mouth which had been so closed up that it could not give birth to a word, gave birth to praise him who made its barrenness fruitful. The One who immediately had given to Adam speech without teaching, gave speech to him so that he could speak easily a language that is learned only with difficulty (Genesis 1:27-28). (excerpt from HOMILY ON OUR LORD 10.3)