Again Jesus left the district of
Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech
impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
A teenage boy was sent off to
college by his father after the death of his mother. He and
his father never really had much of a relationship.
Throughout his life there had never been any interaction.
His father didn’t go to any of his football games, nor
soccer games; never took him fishing; there were no
embraces, no hugs, no handshakes, no touching at all. The
young man had always experienced his mother’s touching, but
not his dad’s. His father was a corporate executive who was
always busy with paper work, phone calls, clients, his job.
He didn’t have time for his son, to touch, to communicate,
to show any love or to express it. Two months into college
the boy committed suicide, leaving a note that said, “I have
nothing to live for . . .”
All through the ministry of
Jesus, we witness all that he does. We walk beside him
while He opens the eyes of the blind, calls the lame to
stand up and walk, changes water into wine at a wedding
feast of Canaan, heals lepers, and then in this reading he says:
“Ephphatha” (Ef-fa-tha), “be opened.” And everyone is
amazed by these miracles. People shake their heads in
disbelief. They marvel at the wonder of him. And yet they
really don’t know what he did to make that difference in the
lives of all those people. Perhaps we too don’t really know
fully what he does to make a difference in our lives. HE
The very first thing that
happens when we enter into this world is that we are
touched. A quick swat on our bottom and our world comes to
life, and we cry out. Touching caused a reaction, it did
something that was really awesome. I remember years and
years ago when one of our little girls fell down and scraped
her knee on our gravel driveway. Before we put a band-aid
on that precious little knee, we kissed it and we told her
that it would be alright.
Touching my friends, is life giving.
Jesus gave life and continues to do so. He gave us the gift
to perform miracles, perhaps not great big miracles, but
nonetheless he gave us the miracle of touching. We
each are empowered by this simple gift. We can turn
tears into a smile; a hurt into a healing; a pain into a
relief. We talk about all the terrible things that are
going on in this world of ours, and there are; about
all the bad things going on in our country, and there are
for sure. There are wars and starvation, dreadful
crime, and child abuse and battered wives, and confused
people from all over, and empty pews in our churches. We
can try and make some sense out of it all and fall short of
Touching. Touching can
invoke healing and harmony and peace. If that young college
man’s dad would have reached out to his son and embraced him
in a moment of sincere love, at a time when he needed it the
most, after the death of his dear mother, the son may have
been healed, and went on to college with a healed heart and
most likely a better outcome. People of all ages cry out to
us. Society cries out to us. People want and need to be
touched . . . by you and I. It is easy to touch those who
we see and live with everyday of our lives, family, friends,
classmates, and playmates. Touching even those, would
be an awesome gesture of love. We can touch in many
ways and we can also touch those who we did not see or are in close
We can touch by way of a
letter, a phone call, a visit. We all know that there are
many friends in our lives by way of the internet. We touch
each other in many ways; emails, forums, chat rooms,
websites, newsletters, and even by phone. We can touch
like Jesus touched and showed us how to touch: by our
smile, by our compassion, by a kind word, and encouraging
word; we can bring about healing by our prayers, we
can soothe a lonely heart, we can spread the word of our
Lord, we can share our joys and our hurts. We can show
hope, we can lend a listening ear, we can show that we
That’s the miracle Jesus
gives us, and Jesus didn’t just touch those who believed.
He touched those who did not believe, and as a result, they
did believe. He did not tell them that they were doomed for
hell, that they were less human beings because they were
non-believers, that there was no hope nor salvation for
them. I get many emails and links to websites that
blast and condemn non-believers, but they sure don't seem to
want to reach out to those non believers out of love, but
seem to more content to judge them out of
self-righteousness. To me, that is hypocritical, that
is not what Jesus taught us to do. How dare we
condemn, how dare we judge, how dare we cast out those we
see not worthy. We are no less sinners, no less a
broken person than a non-believer. The very fact that
we are believers means that we have a responsibility to
reach out to them in love people, in love, out of love.
That was what Jesus did.
There is something else in the story that it would be
easy to miss. Jesus begins his journey in the region of
Sidon and comes to the Decapolis, on the eastern shore of
the Jordan, where he meets the deaf-mute. These regions have
something in common: they are both pagan territories. Yes,
Jesus comes first and foremost for the lost children of
Israel. But his compassion knows no bounds. His miraculous
love transforms the lives of the pious and the outcasts as
well –tax collectors, Samaritans, gentiles, even the hated
Romans! He died on the cross for all people of all
time. Do we want people to believe? Then we must do it as
Jesus did it, by touching. Touching out of love, touching
in His name.
Thank you and God bless each of you,
believers and non-believers alike. Have a great week.