This Sunday we hear once again from seventh chapter of Mark’s Gospel Mk 7:31-37. One of the interesting things taking place here is Jesus, who up to now has healed and taught among his own people, makes a decisive turn to care for the Gentiles. Jesus deliberately enters Gentile territory. Almost immediately the people bring him a deaf man who had a speech impediment. They beg Jesus to heal him. Jesus immediately takes the man aside, perhaps to save him embarrassment, places his finger in the man’s ears and touched his tongue. Jesus looks up to heaven and says “Ephphatha” which means “be opened!” The man’s ears were opened and his speech became normal. He was cured of his affliction.
There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. When Jesus touches the man he becomes ritually unclean. He would not be allowed take part in Temple services until he partook of the ritual cleansing prescribed by Jewish law. Jesus has become an outcast by doing a good deed for someone. Notice also that when Jesus says “Ephphatha” he looks up to heaven. What Jesus is saying is all healing comes from God the Father through him.
What a wonderful story of Jesus caring for one of his people. He is telling us and the people of his time not to be afraid but to concentrate on doing what is good and right and holy. He is also telling all of us that we belong to him. No one is excluded and God will even risk becoming an outcast to care for his people! That is true love.
May God give us the courage to take care of each other even if it means we become outcasts!
Peace and all Good!