I love this word and i love the Jesus story. At times sitting in plain sight in our readings is a particularly powerful word and speaks to my heart. This week it is 'Ephphatha' which means 'be opened'. As with all of the stories of healing which the Gospel writers give us, it is not just about the magic of the healing. It is not about the 'what'. It is about the 'Why'. It is pointing to a deeper layer of meaning within the story. And the gospel writers never accidentally put stories together without there being a connection. Here Mark has put this story about the miracle opening of the deaf man's ears together with a story in which Jesus has just had his ears opened to the plight of the Syrophoenician woman and her child. It is portrayed as a moment of mercy on Jesus part but, i believe, also a moment in which Jesus' heart was shown to be open to all people of need (maybe even a moment of transformation for Jesus himself in which his eyes were opened).
I live in a country which is currently making a firm division between those who are worthy of mercy and compassion and those who are not. Our Government is choosing to close its ears to the cries for mercy of asylum seekers and instead is sending them away where they hope they cannot be heard or seen.
To our Government and to us i believe Jesus would be saying 'Ephphatha' - Be opened! He would challenge us to see all people of need as being equal in the eyes of the Divine and for us to act with mercy and care, to open our hearts.
("ef'-a-tha, ef-a'-tha (Ephphatha): Aramaic word used by Christ (), the 'ethpa`al imperative of Aramaic pethach (Hebrew pathach), translated, "Be (thou) opened"; compare . The Aramaic was the sole popular language of Palestine (Shurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, IIg, 9) and its use shows that we have here the graphic report of an eyewitness, upon whom the dialectic form employed made a deep impression. This and the corresponding act of the touch with the moistened finger is the foundation of a corresponding ceremony in the church’s formula for baptism.")