Ephata, "Be Open!"
In our reading for today, the first reading is somewhat contradicting with the Gospel of today.
There in the first reading from the book of Genesis, we heard that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden food, both of their 'eyes were opened' and they realized that they were naked so they hid themselves from God. But in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus said to the deaf man, Ephata which means 'Be open.'
In the Book of Genesis, what is written there is the origin of our sin. Our sin made us to separate from God. At the back of our sin is a temptation which was caused by the serpent. The serpent is the devil who is behind our fallen nature; but since we were given freedom and freewill by God, we were held liable by God to what had happened to us. From then on, all forms of human sufferings became present in our midst. Why? Because we open our eyes towards ourselves; and we closed our eyes for God, our creator. Somehow, the lies of the devil that provoked our desire to become like God himself has made us blind to see that we were already created and formed in the image and likeness of God. By following the serpent who was the devil, we wounded ourselves and our relationship with God... we disobey God and we cease to listen to God's words. With this woundedness, once and for all, we are in need of a healer who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God who will reconcile once again our broken relationship with God, the Father.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus told to the deaf man, Ephata which means 'be open.' During those times, the people believe that illnesses and human physical challenges were brought by sins of the parents. Perhaps, there could be some realities in that kind of a situation; but this time, in this scenario, it seems that it doesn't apply. In Jesus' time-- people with physical challenges like the blinds, lames, deafs and alike were accused of having sinful parents or a sinful life instead of being helped and treated with mercy and compassion.
Somehow, some of us may also have the same unmerciful and uncompassionate treatment to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. We as sinners are like the deaf man who is also sick and who is in need of a cure. Unless, like the deaf man, that we also allow Jesus to say to us 'be open' so that we could open our hearts and minds to Jesus' good news of salvation. It reminds me of a bible passage asking ‘who is the mother and who are the brothers of Jesus’ where Jesus replied: "My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the Words of God and act on it."
From this point of view, by opening our lives to Jesus, we become a new family of Jesus who listens to the Words of Jesus and who acts on them.
As for me, the words of Jesus "be open" challenges me to see my own sinfulness and to hear the voice of God who is calling me-- I realized that it is not to blame myself ceaselessly; but, more than that, to be humbled and ask for God's forgiveness. This experience has made me realized that I am not a perfect person. I accept now the reality that I am a person who is in need of a merciful and compassionate God who will become my Savior... as a Christian, for us, our savior has a name... and He is Jesus Christ. As I reflect, there in my sinfulness, for the many times of my disobedience to God and for the many times I have given my self to the lures of temptations... I have witnessed that the grace of God was truly overflowing.
Through Jesus Christ, the fallen state of our humanity was restored. Our original sin was forgiven through baptism. Through Jesus, our relationship with God the Father was mediated and reconciled. Through Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, our lives are continuously blessed and inspired. The psalm for today, "Happy the man whose offense is forgiven" truly reflects the meaning of the grace of God that I have personally witnessed.
To reconcile my first statement saying that our first reading for today being contradictive to the Gospel of today, it is because when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden food which made both of their 'eyes opened'—that act of disobedience is based on the selfish will of man that has brought woundedness between the relationship of God and Man that has led to sin—sin has blinded Adam and Eve to see God’s image in themselves; but in the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus said to the deaf man, Ephata which means 'Be open' it is the will of God that is heard by a converted heart and mind that has brought healing to the deaf man... that obedience to the will of God has become a healing to the relationship of the deaf man and God.
The challenge to hear Jesus faithfully remains an invitation for all of us. Unless we allow ourselves to become 'open,' then we could be possibly healed from all of our woundedness. Say yes, to Jesus when he asked you to "be open" so that like Him, we can also become a wounded-healer to others who are in need of our mercy and compassion.
"Be open," Jesus is calling us now... let us listen to Him! Amen.
Br. Dennis DC. Marquez, SSS