23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 9/9/2018 - Gospel: Mk 7: 31-37
Be opened
Today we have a story of the man who had heard no evil and said no evil not because he was incapable of doing so but because was not only deaf but also had impediment in speech. Unable to hear means a person lives in danger all the times because he knows not what is happening around him. Impediment in speak creates lots of misunderstanding because he was unable to express himself clearly in words. Sign language had its limitation. It is hard to imagine how lonely and how much suffering and sadness the deaf man bore in his life? How much worry and fear he had endured? One can get accustomed to something in life but it is not easy to get use to an inability to express one's ideas and feelings. Fortunately, everything changed and changed for the better after the deaf man encountered Jesus. He began a new life in Christ, the goodness Jesus gave him which was beyond his imagination.

Let's see how did Christ heal the man? First, Jesus took the man by himself away from the crowd and applied touches to cure the man's sickness. The first touch made when Jesus took the man aside by himself. This act alone created some sort of separation the man from the crowd. The man was in the hand of the people who brought him to Jesus but now he was separated from the crowd and was alone in the hand of Jesus. Next, Jesus put his fingers into his ears. There was some sort of separation invisible to the eyes of the crowd but the man felt about it and later on the man was able to hear clearly. The final touch made when Jesus touched his tongue with spittle. Again this separation also hidden from the public eye and his tongue was loosened and he was able to speak clearly. There were several actions and yet only one single word uttered but the word was not utter to the man but to his impediment- Ephphatha.

his ears were opened and his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly v.35

These gestures deeply touched not just the ears and the tongue of the man but rather it touched the heart of the man. The man had personal experience of God's power movements from within. Probably, like the experiment the haemorrhage women who longed to touch the fringe of Jesus' garment had experienced Lk 8,40ff, the man felt God's power was flowing into his own body. He could not hear or speak before but now he could he hear all good words praising God, 'he has done all things well', and he spoke with a heartfelt thanking God for his goodness. The man had lived in a hopeless situation and the crowd was powerless to heal the man. Meeting Jesus had changed the life of the man forever. His impediments were cured and he began his new life in joy.

The healing of the man tells us that Jesus spoke to the crowd but not all its members encountered Jesus. Encounter Jesus happens at an individual level. We respond to him not as communal response but individual conviction. The public eye can observe the outward signs but the inward movements are hidden and those who have faith in Jesus will feel it from their own heart.