“Ephphatha!” — that is, “Be open!” Mt 7: 34. What a mysterious word and greeting! I hope this is vaguely familiar to most folks. This 23d week of Ordinary Time reveals this Aramaic word used by the Lord as he heals a man of his deafness.
Of course this deafness is not simply a physical ailment. Our Lord is making a much greater point about our deafness to the Word of God. This man obviously cannot hear the Lord Jesus and due to his deafness he cannot speak properly. For us it is difficult to properly communicate and express ourselves when we have a speech impediment of sorts.
So, to make a long story short, can we acknowledge any deafness to the Word of God? Can we acknowledge the resultant impediment to our lives? There are many ways to approach the Lord’s concern for us… to heal us of whatever makes us deaf to Him. Clearly our struggle with sin is an easy approach to this deafness. Perhaps this is a time to revisit how we understand sin at work in our lives.
Another approach is an honest assessment of how open we are to His Word. Do we take time to sit quietly in prayer? Do we put our full attention into listening to the Word of God proclaimed at Mass… especially in the Gospel? Again, I like to remind folks that the Gospel proclamation at Mass is a time to put down the books, missals, devices, etc… and be totally attentive the Word of God being spoken. This is not a time for reading comprehension exercises but a time to recall that we believe the Word is the creative force that made the world, that gave light, that makes that bread and wine into His Body and Blood! That Word of God is being proclaimed as the Gospel is proclaimed and the other scriptures read.
Being open to the Word of God means being open to the dogmas, doctrines, teachings and the deposit of faith that the Church has come to provide for God’s people. Put another way, may we assess how well we understand what Christ’s Church is proclaiming, teaching, forming?
Finally, I want to connect back to Ephphatha. This is directly connected to the Word of God. As we know, it means, Be Open. So, the Word of God makes us open to Him, His presence, His way, His truth, His life. And not only does Ephphatha make us open in new ways, but it also calls us to be more open in the ways He has already made for us… sacraments; particularly confession… open us, heal us!
All this attention to being open to His Word is exciting for another reason. We have an awesome tool to help parishioners in this call to His Word. Of course, nothing can come close to the Word of God at Mass. However, we have a subscription to the Word of Fire institute. Particularly, Word on Fire Engage is a resource of awesome material, videos, articles, etc to help each one of us realize more fully the role of our faith in our everyday life. We all have a role to play in evangelizing the world. This is the mission our Lord gives us and sends us out to accomplish at the end of each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So please be attentive to the new Flocknote system we are using and the Engage information being sent to you as a preview of the wonderful resources we are making available for your mission of being more open to the Word of God!