This particular miracle story is only found in the Gospel of Mark. It happens in pagan territory, and is a sign of the openness of Jesus to healing all people. In this healing miracle Jesus uses different techniques to cure the man, including placing spittle on the man’s tongue. Such techniques are known to have been used by other healers in ancient times, and it is remarkable that on occasion Jesus uses them too, perhaps to show that all healing is the work of God.
The word ‘Ephphatha’ is one of the rare instances of Aramaic words of Jesus being recorded by the evangelist. Aramaic was the native language of Jesus, while the gospels record everything in Greek, the international language of the day. The Aramaic word has to be written down in the gospel using Greek letters.
Hearing and speech are restored to the man, but Jesus then commands silence about the miracle. This is a particular feature of the gospel miracle stories and may be explained if we recall that Jesus was particularly concerned not to be made the leader of a popular movement, perhaps even a revolt against Roman rule. The purposes of the coming of Jesus are not involved with the politics of the day but with the true healing of people and societies.
The passage concludes with an allusion to the prophecy of Isaiah in our first reading. The days of the blind seeing, the deaf hearing and the dumb speaking were long desired by the people of former times. God’s coming, it was hoped, would transform people’s lives and the whole of creation. The miracle story suggests that these days have come. Who then is this man Jesus?
How can I imitate Jesus’ openness to people of different race and culture?
What is my attitude to people with disabilities?
Let us pray that we may use all our senses in the service of the gospel.
We pray for those who exercise healing ministries.