In our first reading we hear of the split of the tribes of Israel. The evil king Jeroboam led the northern region into the sin of idolatry of false gods. In today's Gospel, Jesus continues his travel throughout the region of Galilee, continuing his ministry in the region of Decapolis. This same region of the former King Jeroboam is now mostly filled with Gentiles who rejected Jesus when he first visited the area (see Mark 5:1-17).
The people bring to Jesus a man who is both deaf and a stutterer. Jesus shows his compassion for this man's predicament, taking him aside privately, no doubt to remove him from embarrassment in front of a noisy crowd of onlookers. Jesus then puts his fingers into the deaf man's ears, and he touches the man's tongue with his own spittle to physically identify with this man's infirmity and to awaken faith in him. With a word of command, “Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened," the poor man's ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. This act of love and mercy astonished and amazed the people, changing their hearts so that, despite Jesus’ commands to tell no one, they could not hold back from telling others about the power of Jesus.
Notice how the people went from fear of the power of Jesus at His first visit to “astonished beyond measure” at what Jesus could do in their lives. When we allow Jesus and His Word to penetrate our senses, to break through our own limits of understanding, we too become filled with zeal and our lives are changed. By desiring to rid ourselves of the handicap of sin, and allowing ourselves to be brought to Jesus, we unleash the power of His Love through the action of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. But, like the deaf and mute man, we must be willing to bring ourselves into the presence of Jesus and ask for His mercy.
No problem or burden is too much for Jesus' healing power. The Lord treats each of us with love and mercy and he calls us to treat one another in like manner. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us enables us to love as Jesus loves.
Today’s Questions for Prayer and Reflection
Do you approach Jesus with faith and confidence in His power to heal you? Do you show kindness and compassion to your neighbors, treating them with love and mercy as Jesus has done for us?