31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’ Mark 7Be Opened. These are words I need this morning as I think about gun violence and senseless killing and the injustice of our justice system. Be Opened.
These words come from Jesus as he looks up to the heavens and groans deep in his soul and prays: Be Opened. Jesus is healing a deaf man who speech is garbled. He prays to open him up. To unstop his ears which he does by poking his fingers inside and unbind his tongue by spitting on it. In this gritty scene of healing, he opens up this man who has been bound.
This man is a despised nearby neighbor. He is part of the community that is outside the safety and comfort zone. He is from a community seen as not us, not good enough. But Jesus is expanding who is part of God's Dream. He has just healed a Samaritan, an outsider. And no with this story of the being opened, Jesus moves the ministry to the left out and rejected. He heals this man. Be Opened.
Be Opened. Jesus has just preached about what makes people unclean and shared with us that it is the those things that hurt others, that comes out of us this is what makes us unclean, that defiles us.
20And he said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’ Mark 7Jesus speaks to us about what makes us worthy and unworthy. And while he is talking about food and makes all food clean, he wants us to think about what is in our hearts and minds, not our stomachs. Jesus opens us up to people who are different, who are outsiders. Jesus wants us to look and interact with those who are different from us and see them as God's, as part of God's mission and ministry. Be Opened.
As we pray for justice, this prayer speaks to me so that I learn how to open myself. Open myself to those who are different from me, who I have been told to be afraid of, who the world wants me to be scared of. Be Opened.
Be open to that child with dark skin and a hoody that you meet today.
Be open to having God work through you to see a child of God, a Holy Creation, Beloved.
Be open to the Spirit bringing you to a place a discomfort to see and experience the Holy.
Be open to challenge the unjust justice system.
Jesus is ready to open you,
Jesus is ready to unstop your ears.
Jesus is ready to give you the words to share the hope and justice of God with the world.
Be Open to the light that is meant to shine in the dark places.