Isaiah 35:4-7a; Mark 7:24-37††††††††††††
The gospel reading tells us of a man brought to Jesus for his blessing. Jesus responds by healing the man whose world was empty of sound and communication. The man brought for a blessing certainly receives one - yet† beyond everyone's wildest expectations.
Jesus was sensitive to the manís own very special needs - he deals with him individually. He leads him away from the crowd - and then communicates with him in a way understandable to the man. This man could not hear or speak - so Jesus communicates with him in a way that is understandable to the man. This man could not hear or speak - so Jesus communicates his intentions by touching the manís ears and tongue. By using spit Jesus told the man that he wanted to heal him (spittle was seen as having medicinal value for healing in those days). Jesus tried to somehow ask every person he wanted to heal whether they wanted him to or not. With this man it was pantomime - touching the parts he wanted to heal and using spit as a symbol for the act of healing.
Jesus then looks up to heaven - again, another visual symbol for the deaf man, to signify to him where his healing will come from.
Then Jesus sighs. It is a sigh full of meaning. It is a sigh that communicates love grown weary from caring. It is a sigh that shares with us the pain and sacrifice that comes from caring for others. It is a sigh that lets us know Jesus was well aware of the deaf muteís potential for evil as well as good. In a sigh we discover the humanity of Jesus - we touch the love and the pain of his ministry to us. Such a deep sigh.
With the sigh came the word of power - the word of healing. Ephphatha - which means - ďbe openedĒ. And the man is healed!
The deaf mute had special needs which could only be responded too in a special way. All through the story Jesus treats this man as an individual, not as one of the crowd.
Each of us have special needs that can only be responded to in special ways. Jesus wants to deal with each one of us as individuals, dealing with each one of us in a unique and special manner. We are special to God. He not only treats us as individuals - he communicates with us in ways that only we appreciate. I have often asked people how God talks to them - there seem to be as many different answers as there are people. One elderly lady said that God talked to her as she gardened. One gentleman spoke about how God talked to him as he went bushwalking. A young mum shared that God spoke to her through her relationship with her children.
Each and every one of us hears God in our own special way. The amazing thing is that God not only wants to communicate with us, but that he does it in ways that are appropriate to each one of us!
The other side to us being special to God, is that he wants to heal us. And our healing whether it is physical, emotional, mental or spiritual is to enable us to be open. Open to God, open to others, open to the things of beauty and wonder that fill Godís creation.
Yet in our healing we become open to the other side of life as well. Like the deaf mute, our healing opens us up to new ways of being good and bad. Open to temptation, open to giving and receiving hurt, open to the ugly and depressing things that can pull us down.
Yet God continues to offer us healing, speaking to us in ways that only we can hear and understand, making us whole and new again each day. To God we are so special that he died for us. The good news in all this is God wants to know each of us individually. That he wants to speak to us in a way we will understand. And he wants to open us to the potential within us, that we might live life whole and free.