Gospel of Mark 7:31-37

Does anyone here have a hearing problem? I didn’t think I did but my best friend Karen helped me understand that I did. As a result I went to an audiologist and ended up with hearing aids which I do wear infrequently. The Man in today’s Gospel had a bigger problem than I do in that he “could hardly talk” meaning that his hearing was all but gone. That is not a problem that I have.

It is natural to want to hear and be a part of a conversation around us, to be involved in dialogue and to know what is being said. Yet there are times when we choose to be deaf, that is being guilty of selective hearing/listening, which has nothing to do with a loss of our ability to hear.. 

At the time of Jesus there wasn’t a profession of audiology but that didn’t stop Jesus from helping the man. In contrast to the magicians of Jesus time and magicians today, Jesus didn’t want a big audience but, he wanted to deal with the deaf man individually just as he deals with each of us. So he took the man aside, put a finger in the man’s ears and put some saliva, which was believed to have healing power, on the man’s tongue and said “Effatha” (open up) and the man was able to hear and talk. That’s better than a current day audiologist could hope for.

Even though you and I may not be physically deaf, sometime we are spiritually deaf when we listen to the world around us and neglect to listen to Jesus. That can easily happen in that our world is a noisy place by way of the media with all of its sound bites try to tell us who to vote for or what we need to buy in order to improve our lives. Just as is true rest of our lives, it is easy to talk with Jesus but listening is another story. With one word, “Ephpahtha” Jesus restored the man’s hearing and ability to speak. The fact is that every time we turn to Jesus, he says the same thing to us “Ephphatha, be opened”. Jesus wants to remove whatever is preventing us from hearing his still and small voice. He wants to heal us of anything and everything that keeps us from embracing and sharing his message of love.

Let’s take a few minutes right now to have a silent conversation with Jesus, that is, talking to him and then listening to him. As a first step let’s take ½ minute or so to talk with him, getting your message across to him just we would with your closest friend. Talk to him about anything. Remembering that he is your best friend, that he understands you better than you know yourself, that we can trust that he will provide what you need to find him in everyone, in everything and in every situation, that he only want good for you, he has wisdom and knowledge without bounds and that he has something important that he wants you to understand. Then spend a quiet 2 minutes listening to God’s quiet voice. Then take 2 minutes in silence to listen to his message starting now.
What you experienced is a good example of what prayer is about; talking a little and listening silently a lot. How did it work? Did anything happen other than beautiful silence? Once you start the conversation with Jesus, his response may not come quickly but his response will come. The response from Jesus can take various forms such as a reading, a scripture passage, something a person sees, something a person hears, or a strong feeling just to mention a few items which Jesus uses to communicate. Both Karen and I have examples of how Jesus has responded to her and my prayers. One example of Karen’s prayer and Jesus’ response occurred when she was flying to Denver to see her daughter who was gravely ill in the hospital and her prayer all during the flight was the question, “What is my role going to be there in Denver?”. When she landed in Denver and saw the terminal which looked like angels wings the answer came to her loud and clear and it was “Minister to everyone”. Her daughter died shortly after she arrived in Denver and she ministered to everyone even though she had never done it before and the results were great and the results continue to this day. Have any of you had like examples?

We need not be afraid to ask Jesus to open your ears to his wisdom and grace. He is more willing to do for each of us as he did for the man in today’s Gospel, touching our ears and saying “Ephphatha! Be Opened!” All it takes is for you and me is to trust him and in a moment our ears will be opened just as the deaf man’s ears were. The truth is all it takes is a little internal motivation on our part and we will be longer deaf to God’s message.

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