Updated: Sep 10, 2021
For the month of September, we begin a new message series on: Who is Jesus? Surely, each of us has our own answer to the question given our personal experiences, but today we look at Jesus the Healer.
Ephphatha is a word that fascinates me. It means be opened and is used by Jesus when he heals the deaf man in the gospel. This man, being deaf and unable to speak, resulted in virtual isolation from the community. He was cut off from hearing others and from speaking with others too.
So, when Jesus healed him and spoke the words, be opened, he literally tore down the walls that kept this man from the fullness of a healthy life. The way to life was opened by God. Now, he could hear the laughter, the conversations, the sacred stories after having been blocked from doing so. Now, he could hear the history of God’s loving relationship with Israel, the accounts of God’s action on behalf of His people, he could hear Jesus speak of God’s love for him.
Original sin, described in the book of Genesis, has been the traditional understanding of the cause of our separation from God, the moment the human person isolated himself from the source of life, love and grace. Locked into our own wills and deaf to the voice of God, we can really become self-absorbed and can seem to be unable to break free from the bondage to the self. The result is sin – bringing sadness, fear and anger, and an emotional, spiritual and physical destructiveness inflicted on ourselves and those around us.
To get beyond that, we need the healing touch of Christ – to be healed from our physical, spiritual and emotional brokenness - and to hear the words, be opened! This is a direct command from the Lord and has the power to release us from our bondage to all those things that separate us from God’s love.
At our baptism, the priest or deacon signed our ears and mouth with the cross and announced, Ephphatha. With that sign our ears were opened to hear the word of God and our lips were opened to proclaim, under the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ is Lord. Each day we are called to live out the truth of our baptism and nurture the graces of that sacrament.
Saint Bonaventure, in his life of Saint Francis of Assisi, describes how at prayer in a lonely place one day and full of sorrow for his sins, the joy of the Holy Spirit suddenly came upon Francis and his heart was expanded and the horizons of his mind were enlarged. This was an ephphatha moment for Francis when the graces of his baptism flowered freely and abundantly in his spirit. This is the grace we seek – that the spiritual energies in our soul, given to us at baptism and confirmation may be released to flow freely and powerfully within us – and heal us from all of our different infirmities.
We all experience distress in all sorts of ways—as sadness, anxiety, addictions, unproductive obsessions, unwanted compulsions, repetitive self-sabotaging behaviors, physical ailments, boredom, and various angry, bleak, and agitated moods.
What helps relieve this distress? What helps a person to heal? For the believer it’s our faith in Jesus the Healer … a faith that encourages and supports the other resources available to us in this modern age – counseling, medication, self-help groups and the like. While there are plenty of other tips for healing, here I offer just a few:
1. Be yourself
We must be our authentic true ourselves – the person God created in God’s image and likeness. This means asking for what we need in prayer, setting boundaries, having our own beliefs and opinions, standing up for our values, and developing our adult faith life as we liste