Photo illustration by Phil Younk
Click on the photo for a printable PDF!

Poor, those in need, deserve loving care

Based on the Gospel of Mark 7:31-37
The Lord’s touch. Throughout Scripture, God commands that the poor – all those in need – be given special loving care. In this Sunday’s Gospel, some people come to Jesus with a deaf man, who also has a speech impediment, and ask for Jesus’ help. Feeling sorry for the man, Jesus takes him aside to a quiet spot. Jesus touches the man’s ears, and commingles some of his saliva with the man’s by directly touching the man’s tongue. The deaf man then sees Jesus look up to the sky. Jesus is using body talk (visible gestures and signs) for the man who otherwise wouldn’t know what Jesus is communicating. The man sees Jesus’ lips move. Jesus says, “Ephphatha” – that is, “Be opened!” Immediately, the man can hear and speak clearly! How different his life will be now.

Whenever Jesus performed miracles the crowds were amazed and astonished. The people who were healed generally responded in faith and followed Jesus. The crowds, while awe-struck at Jesus’ miracles, missed the deeper meaning of what Jesus was calling them to – a deeper relationship with him and discipleship.

At baptism, the church welcomed us as new members of the Catholic faith community and our lives were joined to Jesus. The priest asked the questions, and our parents and godparents answered for us. He asked them what they believed as Catholics. They promised to help us grow as Jesus’ followers. We were given a new life of grace, the help of the Holy Spirit.

At our baptism, the priest prayed a special blessing, the “Ephphatha,” (pronounced EF-fah-thah) or prayer over the ears and the mouth. The priest said, “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.”

We hear Jesus speak to us at Mass in the readings, the Gospel and the homily. We respond with prayers, songs and by going out and doing what Jesus asks of us – loving God and neighbor, especially those in need. The spoken word, the physical touch and the visible signs of oil, water, and bread and wine used when we receive the sacraments help us to grow in faith and grace.

Lord Jesus, help us to open our hearts and minds generously to your teachings so that we live as your disciples and proclaim the Good News.