‘Ephphatha,’ that is ‘Be opened.’ And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly (Mk. 6:51). ⧾
At the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism for Children this miracle is ritually recalled in what is known as the rite of Ephphatha. The celebrant touches the mouth and the ears of the child with his thumb and says, The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the mute speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen. At the very beginning of our life of grace we are reminded that the word of God is received for a reason – that it may be proclaimed. The form that this proclamation takes varies; but the purpose of this proclamation is a progressive evangelization of our lives so that we may fully live what we proclaim. In all our efforts to proclaim the word of God, whether in the sacred liturgy, in our own prayer with Sacred Scripture, or in what is known as lectio divina, sacred reading, the desired goal is that the word of Christ may dwell in us (Col. 3:16) and that we may be doers of the word and not just hearers (Jas. 1:22).
Our Lord said to those who believed in Him: If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (Jn. 8:31-32). We believe in Him and because we wish to continue in His word; that is, we seek to enter evermore deeply into the meaning of the word of God so that in the words of the Psalmist it may be a lamp for [our] steps and a light for [our] path. (Ps. 119:105). The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews declares: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (4:12). There is power in God’s word and by this power we are able to discern and understand the signs of our times in a manner that is not accessible to those who do not believe in the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. At the Last Supper, in His high priestly prayer, Our Lord prayed for those who would follow Him throughout the ages: ‘Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth’ (Jn. 17:17). By God’s grace, we stand in the truth of God’s word in the assurance that God will not allow us to be deceived. Our instruction in the Gospel is always ongoing and in this sense, we are truly always disciples. We are men and women, young and old, constantly seeking to understand the word of the Lord which abides for ever (cf. 1 Pet. 1:25). This Word is the foundation of our faith and the light of our lives. By entering into a loving dialogue with God’s living Word we endeavour to bring this word to bear on the circumstances of our lives; and in this manner we exercise a prophetic office and service to both believers and unbelievers alike.