“Ephphatha!”

Readings for September 9, 2018

Isaiah 35:4-7
Psalm 146
James 2:1-5
Mark 7:31-37

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

When Moses said to God, “those folks over there will never believe this. Who should I say I was talking to? What name should I use?” God answered, “tell them I Am has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:13-14) I Am seems a strange name to us, but it is the perfect reply from an infinite being.

God is unlimited by space, undefined by time, and unabated by afflictions. God declines Moses’ attempt to limit Him with a name, answering only that He exists, and it is my duty to make sure that I don’t attempt to limit Him either. In my case, I might limit God by not doing as He has commanded, which leads me to limit God’s role in my life and to limit what is promised to me. Doing so separates me from His love and keeps me from achieving what He has in store for me.

Unfortunately, as much as I know this to be true, I manage to do it every day. I place limits on myself by believing in the fear I have in my head that I am too much of this or too little of that. I place limits on His love when I judge others harshly as well–for not thinking, or acting, or believing in the ways that I have determined they should. It’s all too easy to define myself, or others, by these “negative” traits and my own expectations. So I need to remember that through Christ we are all  adopted children of the living God.

When I remember this, all those weaknesses in myself and others shrink in importance. The key to neither limit myself nor God is to be open. Ephphatha. In Mark’s gospel passage, Jesus groans, touches, spits, touches again, and then commands, “Be opened!” The man’s ability to speak plainly now renders mute others’ ability to define him by his limits. It is a command from Jesus that is much more than the physical healing of a deaf man. It is a command for me to keep my faith open ended. To listen, understand, and accept every new aspect of my infinite God as it is presented to me, and then to speak plainly about what I have heard and learned.

So let me speak plainly now. God is my all in all. I owe all I am, all I have, all that is promised to me, to Him. My openness to Him means that I must accept myself and my circumstances. No god of legend or myth has ever offered what my God has done for me–loving me so completely that He died on a cross to save me from myself. In return, I must share His love with those around me, unabashedly and without limits.

Lord Jesus, you fulfill the promises of our fathers in faith by being open to do the will of your Father. May our ears be open to your Word so that our hearts are open to believe, live and serve without limits. May all we do reflect your love and our hope to be with you in paradise. I ask this in your name, Jesus, who lives and reigns with God the Father and in unity with the Holy Spirit. Amen

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