Ephphatha! Be opened! Christ speaks this word to the deaf man today in our gospel, not only to open his ears, but because Christ knows that each and every one of us is actually meant to be broken open; our destiny is to learn to hear in a totally new way – radically open to the divine word in all beings.
And yet, if we are honest, most of the time we are deaf to what we hear because we only hear ourselves when others speak, missing the divine word because our word is so loud. This deafness to others is our lonely situation.
And in order to overcome this lack of hearing, we are actually called by the gospel to become like the deaf man; completely vulnerable. The deaf man had to make himself vulnerable and allow his friends to bring him to this strange Jesus, he had to become vulnerable and allow Jesus to put his finger in his ears, even to put spit on his tongue! The deaf man shows us that the divine word only opens us when we become vulnerable.
But so often we are not strong enough to bear this kind of vulnerability. Our strength fails us because we fall prey to the illusion that vulnerability is an unhelpful weakness, leading us away from a powerful self. Or, our strength to be vulnerable fails us because tender feeling is so often painful. Our strength to be vulnerable fails us because our small selves know too well how many wolves there are in this world waiting to devour our softness.
Nevertheless, and in the face of these wolves, following Christ means to find the courage to be broken open in every encounter. For only through radical tenderness can we begin to hear The Spirit sound, to overcome our desperate loneliness.
But, if we don’t want to surrender our loneliness so quickly,
Then let us allow loneliness cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season us.
Let this something that is missing in our hearts make our eyes soft,
Our voice tender,
Our need for God absolutely clear.
(taken from elements of a Hafiz poem on loneliness)
This contemplation by Rev. Evans was inspired by Mk 7 and the word ‘Ephphatha’