One of the aspects of discipleship is being able to hear God's word and being able to speak about what Jesus has done and what God will be doing. So on the surface this is a story of healing. Some people seek the healing of their friend by bringing him to Jesus. At this level Jesus comes to us in those places where we are closed off from the world where we can't hear or unable to express ourselves clearly. Jesus comes to those blocked off places and wrestles them open. For sometimes these places are the hardest to release. As the healing story illustrates, Jesus sometimes has to poke about a bit, help us by digging into those places to release what is holding us back. This can be a gritty dirty process, for Jesus has to use spit and touch the wounded part. And when he heals in this case he groans in his spirit and touches the wounded part. And when he groans he sighs up to heaven and says, "Be Opened." While we may not experience the physical healing, when we use these word be opened as a breath prayer, we can begin to groan to God to open up our closed off. shut down parts of ourselves.
The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark a prayer journey, Day 36Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’ Mark 7:31-37
At another level the words of this story and the message of the story are directed to the reader. We are invited to be open to hearing the rest of the story, to have ears open so we can hear and understand. For the story as it continues in Mark becomes more and more difficult to hear and understand. The disciples become increasingly unable to understand. They don't understand his teachings, his miracle and why he is heading steadily toward his arrest and execution. The twelve are no where to be found at the end; they have deserted and denied Jesus. So you are invited to be open - to hear and understand. Mark's Gospel invites us share the story. For in this healing story, Jesus allows the man to speak clearly about what he has heard. And although Jesus tells those with the man not to spread the news - the news - the word - cannot be contained and spreads. And at the end of the story when there is no one left to tell the news, will you be open to the invitation to share the word. So here before we know the rest of the story, we are invited to have our tongues released and speak plainly. Will you be open to sharing God's good news?
As you settle into a time with God, begin by asking God to bring into your awareness those places where you are unable to hear, where you are closed off. Then hear Jesus speak to those places - Be Opened. Amen.
Invocation by Christopher Grundy