In today’s gospel we encounter Jesus outside the Galilee in the area of Decapolis, an area of Hellenistic thought and faith practice. Jesus meets someone, “a deaf man who had a speech impediment”
“he looked up to heaven…and said…’Ephphatha! (that is, ‘Be opened!’) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” (Mark 7:34-35)
In terms of the mission of Jesus and the later mission of the Apostles and disciples, it is touchstone and summary: be willing to leave the comfort of your neighborhood, persistent when encountering people not initially open to hearing the Word of God, look to heaven in prayer for ways to remove the barriers, and empower the listener to speak plainly the Word of God to others.
Sometimes when I talk about “mission” people assume I am writing about overseas ministry; the ministry of vocation as priest, religious sister, or religious brother; or some other endeavor that would take one away from the life they are not living. Not really. Actually, not too often. Each one of us was baptized and thus commissioned for a mission to others.
Maybe it’s a mission of prayer for others done at home amidst the quotidian things of laundry, cleaning, and meal preparation. Maybe it’s a mission of outreach in volunteer programs, ecclesial or civil. Maybe not as a religious brother, but a Big Brother. It is still mission. So, think about your gifts and opportunities. Be willing to leave your comfort zone. Look to heaven for grace and encouragement because there will always be barriers and moments of discouragement – be persistent in turning to God and enduring your mission.
Ephphatha! Be open to the Spirit calling you to your mission. May your ears and heart be open to fulfilling your Baptismal promises.