“Say to the fearful of heart: Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf cleared. Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.”
I’ve been meditating on a passage in the gospel of Mark, chapter 7:31-37. It is the account of the man, both deaf and mute, brought to Jesus to be healed. Mark’s account of this man’s healing is quite specific in its detail.
First, Mark reports, Jesus takes the man “off by himself, away from the crowd.” Then “[Jesus] put his fingers into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue.” Next, Jesus “looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to [the deaf man], ‘Ephphatha!’…(that is, ‘Be opened!’).”
The result of Jesus’ ministry was that “immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” The crowd’s assessment of the miracle performed was that, “[Jesus] has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
I find myself identifying with the man in this gospel story. I, too, am in need of healing in the area of listening and speaking. Perhaps your need is the same as mine? At one time or another we all may have found ourselves deaf to the voice of the Spirit of God and thus mute, having nothing of any real value to say: no words of life to offer to others.
Thus the experience of a universal need: a healing word and miraculous touch. Why, we may even find ourselves being led “away from the crowd” in the process! The “crowd” can represent the many and sundry ways we find ourselves distracted from hearing that “still, small voice” within of which the psalmist speaks. (Psalm 46:10)
It is here that I’m reminded of wise words attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her words express my heart’s desire to listen clearly to the voice of God’s Spirit and that in listening I might speak “plainly” words of light and life to others:
“God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…The more we receive in private prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to teach souls.
The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within—the words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”
Grace & Peace