Pentecost 16 B
Mark 7: 31-37
Be Opened!

Thereís just something about seeing those words stamped on your paper. Itís great to get an ďAĒ on a paper, a test or some assignment. Itís a confirmation that the hard work paid off, that the time you spent hitting the books wasnít wasted. But thereís just something special about seeing the words, ďGood Job!Ē affixed to your work as well. Itís an affirmation that goes beyond the grade. It lets you know that your work was done, not just to your satisfaction; but to that of others as well. It stood out. It was a grade above the rest. And it comes as nothing less today when we hear that Jesus had done everything well.

He certainly had. He had come from the borders of Tyre and Sidon where he had healed the daughter of the Syrophenician woman, and had now arrived back at the Sea of Galilee, passing through the midst of the coastal cities of the Decapolis, a confederation of ten cities. As in other places Jesusí reputation precedes Him and large crowds of people flock to Him in order to catch a glimpse, perhaps even a demonstration of His power, or maybe to be the subject of one of Jesusí incredible healings. On this one occasion a man that was deaf and who had a speech impediment was among those brought to Him. "Jesus. Master! This man has a terrible time speaking and hearing. Place your hand upon him and heal him."
Itís interesting to note how the people had their own ideas as to what Jesus would do. Jesus, on the other hand, has other concerns and intentions for this man, so He takes the man out and away from the confusion of the crowd. Then, alone, in a place where the man knows and understands that Jesus is going to do something for him, Jesus goes to work.

With the manís eyes riveted upon Him Jesus uses sign language that is simple and plain so the deaf-mute canít help but understand what Jesus is doing. He thrusts his fingers into the manís ears conveying His intention to do something about his deafness. Then Jesus spits and touches the manís tongue indicating with both actions that he is also about to do something about his ailing tongue. Then looking up into heaven and sighing in earnest before the Father in heaven, Jesus cries out "effatha", which translated means, "Be opened!" And immediately, Mark reports that "the manís ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly." He was healed, and when the crowd saw what Jesus had done with the man they were overwhelmed with amazement.
I think itís safe to say, though, that Jesusí intention and desire was to open more than this manís ears and tongue and more than the crowdís jaws with astonishment. As always Jesus used his divine powers to open eyes, and hearts and hands as well.

John says it well at the end of his Gospel when he writes, "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe