TO HEAL DEAFNESS
The healing of a deaf-mute in the pagan region of Sidon is told by Mark with a clearly pedagogical intention. The man has a special sickness. He can neither hear nor talk. He lives closed in on himself, not communicating to anyone. He doesn’t know that Jesus is passing near him. It takes others to bring him to the Prophet.
What Jesus does is special also. He doesn’t lay hands on him as they’ve asked, but he takes him away and leads him to a place far from the people. There he works intensely, first on his ears and then on his tongue. He wants the sick man to feel his healing touch. Only a deep encounter with Jesus could heal him of a deafness that is so hard to remove.
It seems that all his efforts are for nothing. The deafness persists. Then Jesus turns to the Father, source of all salvation: looking up to heaven, he sighs and shouts a single word to the sick man: Epphetá, that is, «Be opened». This is the only word Jesus pronounces in the whole story. It’s not directed to the ears of the deaf man, but to his heart.
Undoubtedly Mark wants this word Jesus says to resound forcefully in the Christian communities that will read his story. He knows well how easy it is to go about deaf to God’s Word. Today too there are Christians who don’t open themselves up to the Good News of Jesus or speak to anyone about their faith. Deaf-mute communities who seldom listen to the Gospel and communicate it badly.
Maybe one of the most serious sins of Christians today is this deafness. We don’t stop to listen to Jesus’ Gospel. We don’t live with an open heart to welcome his words. That’s why we don’t know how to listen patiently and compassionately to so many who suffer, those who scarcely receive anyone’s kindness and attention.
Sometimes it’s been said that the Church, born of Jesus to announce his Good News, goes on her merry way, frequently forgetting the concrete life of people’s worries, fears, occupations, and hopes. If we don’t listen well to the calls from Jesus, we won’t put words of hope into the life of those who suffer.
There’s something paradoxical in some of the Church’s reasoning. We say great truths, but don’t touch people’s hearts. Something like this is happening in these times of crisis. Society isn’t waiting for the «religious doctrine» of experts, but does listen attentively to a lucid word inspired by Jesus’ Gospel, when it’s pronounced by a Church that is sensitive to victims who suffer, a Church that knows how to instinctively go out to their defense, inviting everyone to be near to those who most need help to live with dignity.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf