....Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” -Mark 7:34
...One of the stories of healing we will encounter this week is of a man unable to hear and to speak--once Jesus utters the word "Ephphatha"--his ears are opened and his mouth gives rise to plain speech. In one sense, this is a story of this man's healing. In another sense, this story is meant to speak to all of us. So what is the story saying to me?
The last few weeks--with the rise of the Delta variant, with increasing number of folks close to me getting sick and with a return to practices like masks and social distancing--there is a sense of feeling closed in again. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. In sharp contrast, the start of the summer felt like were were opening back up again--and that we were headed in a direction of re-connecting and recovery. Well, we are still heading in that direction but it is just going to go a bit slower than I expected. I have to be flexible, nimble and patient especially at a moment where I am feeling closed in and resistant.
It is in such a moment like this that Jesus' word "Ephphatha" offers me healing by providing an essential reminder--the antidote to being closed in is to be opened. I need God in my life to remind me not to turn inward but to continue to be focused out-ward. My work is to keep choosing connection over disconnection, to keep choosing love over fear and to keep being open instead of closing myself off.
So what is the story saying to you? How might Jesus' word of "Ephphatha" invite you to be opened to yourself and to others. Have the last few weeks felt like a closing off again--how might God meet you in that experience? Hope you have a blessed Labor Day Weekend and have some time for rest, rejuvenation and connection.
Peace, Fr. Ed