"Ephphata" (Be Opened!)

09-05-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah preaches a message of hope to a despairing Israel facing a period of national misfortune. Israel, in Isaiah’s time, was being tossed from Assyrian domination to Babylonian captivity and exile. There were also various physical limitations and gross lack that made life quite difficult. The temptation to give up was palpable. It was at this time that the prophet Isaiah preached the imminent arrival of God who would redeem, rehabilitate and restore Israel to her pre-exile enviable state. The despairing exiles are urged to be strong and to fear not, for God is here to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf, vindicate and save Israel. This prophecy speaks to the present situation of many in our world. There are too many people suffering with physical and spiritual privations. Despair for such brethren can seem a veritable option, but God is not just on the way; He is here to save and restore us if we let Him.

In the Gospel, God the Son fulfilled this prophecy of Isaiah when He opened the ears of the deaf man who also had a speech impediment and was kindly brought to Him by others. Jesus took him aside, ensuring that his privacy and dignity were preserved, and healed him through personal contact and by saying, “Ephphata!” which means, “be opened!” Please note that the Divine Redeemer used action and words to eff ect this particular healing. We may neither be physically deaf nor be challenged by a speech impediment, but the ears of our hearts are o[ en closed to understanding God’s words and, most unfortunately, to the feelings and needs of others. We o[ en dismiss the needs of others as “their problem” and so shut our eyes from seeing their need and become deaf to their cry for help. We need to come to Jesus and bring others to Him so He can open our hearts to His word and so make us sensitive to the feelings and needs of others. Only then can we be mature Christians avoiding the mistake of treating people according to their status and means like St. James warned the early Christians in the second reading today. Instead, love and respect each other irrespective of social and economic status. May we also be aided by God’s grace to open the hearts of many to the Gospel and God’s love through charitable action and kind words.

Do have a great week and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh