In today’s gospel the crowd brings to Jesus a deaf man with a speech impediment and begs Jesus to lay his hand on him. Note how Jesus deals with the man, one on one, sensitively, carefully and compassionately.
“He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is ‘Be opened!)”
Jesus is not a mass healer. Jesus looks individually on those who come to him for help and adapts his help to their specific need, be it for physical or psychological healing or for encouragement and forgiveness. This poor man was “deaf and dumb.” So Jesus touches his ears as well as his tongue, and prays to his father. The gospel notes that immediately the man’s ears were opened and his speech impediment removed.
The basic question for Jesus is always: What does my neighbor need from me today?
How often we find ourselves selfishly reversing the question to What do I need from my neighbor?
As members of the Body of Christ our primary vocation is extending Christ’s presence: we are Christ’s hands and hearts on this planet. God depends on us to touch our neighbor as Christ would if Christ were here. Let’s thank God for giving us the Spirit of Christ in baptism and ask God to be open to this Spirit so we might truly be Christ’s presence for others.
By Dick Hauser