Reflection on 23rd Sunday: 5th September 2021


‘Today’s gospel isn’t simply a story about Jesus turning a particular deaf man into a particular hearing man. This is a story about each one of us. It is more about spiritual deafness than it is about physical deafness. Hearing and deafness are not determined by our ears, but by what’s in our heart, the way we love and relate to one another. We are either open or closed to the connection with God, with one another and with the world. Sometimes we choose to be open or closed depending on people, places, and circumstances. We have selective hearing. We hear what we want to hear. When we are spiritually deaf we assume that ours is the only or the most important voice to hear. We are closed to new ideas, understandings, and experiences. Unopen to new ways of thinking, behaving, and relating, we continue business as usual and nothing ever changes. It is a lonely, isolated existence.’1

‘What is said clearly is not always heard clearly. Every message is filtered as it is being received. How it is actually received depends on what is happening in the listener. The capacity of the disciples to hear clearly and interpret accurately was inhibited by factors such as fears, expectations, anxiety and what we call spiritual blindness. It’s quite a journey from hearing what we want to wanting what we hear. Like the first disciples, we develop ways of evading what we find seriously challenging, of shutting out what threatens or disturbs, of sidestepping what makes demands.’2

‘The cure for our spiritual deafness is not to hear but to be open. Hearing follows openness. “Ephphatha.” That’s what Jesus tells the deaf man. He doesn’t say, “Now hear!” He says, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” He says the same thing to you and me. Jesus is always speaking, “Ephphatha,” to the closed parts of our lives. The openness to which Christ calls us transforms and heals our lives. It reconnects us to God and one another, offering new life, new beginnings, new hope, and new possibilities.’1

‘You can always open more
and there is always more to open to.’3

[1] Michael Marsh [2] [3] Stephen C. Paul

Gospel Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, “Ephphatha”, that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly.

And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. “He has done all things well,’ they said “he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”