Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.
The second half of Sunday’s Gospel lesson doesn’t have the racism and sexism of the first half, but it is not without its own drama. Jesus is somewhere in the region of Decapolis, en route to his home base at Capernaum, when a crowd finds him. In their midst is a man who is both deaf and mute and wants to be healed. The Greek word used to describe his condition is mogilalos, which literally means “to speak with difficulty.” That is relatively unsurprising.
What should catch our attention, however, is how his healing is described. Jesus puts his fingers in the man’s ears, which is strange, then he spits, which is odd, he touches the man’s tongue, which is gross, and finally he prays. Marks tells us that the man’s hearing was opened, and the chains on his tongue were unbound. How’s that for high drama!?!
The crowd that is with the no longer deaf and mute man are so impressed by what they have seen, that their tongues become unbound, even as Jesus tried to bind them back up. “Tell no one,” he says, but they proclaim the miracle more and more. Which makes me wonder, what keeps our tongues bound by chains? Have we not seen miracles in our own lives or in the lives of others that need to be proclaimed? Are we not excited enough about what God is doing in our lives to share that Good News? I suggested on Tuesday that maybe Jesus’ prayer of “ephphatha” was for himself, but maybe it was for all who would follow. Maybe even as he told them not to speak, he hoped that their tongues would be unbound and they would share the Good News of the Kingdom far and wide.
Either way, my prayer for The Episcopal Church today is just one Greek word, “ephphatha,” be open, be unbound, share the Good News.