.- Pope Benedict XVI says that the public ministry of Jesus Christ is encapsulated in one “small but very important” Aramaic word: “Ephphatha.”
“‘Ephphatha – be opened,’ sums up Christ’s entire mission,” said the Pope in his midday Angelus address Sept. 9.
“He became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others,” the Pope explained.
Speaking to several thousand pilgrims gathered at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict dwelt upon the Sunday reading from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus cures a deaf man in the non-Jewish area known as the Decapolis, between the coast of Tyre and Sidon, and Galilee.
“Jesus took him aside, touched his ears and tongue, and then, looking up to the heavens, with a deep sigh said, ‘Ephphatha,’ which means, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately the man began to hear and speak fluently,” the Pope summarized.
The Pope observed that the “closure of man” and his “isolation” are not solely dependent on the sensory organs.
“There is an inner closing, which covers the deepest core of the person, what the Bible calls the ‘heart’,” said the Pope. “That is what Jesus came to ‘open’ to liberate, to enable us to fully live our relationship with God and with others.”
It is for this reason, he said, that the word and gesture of “Ephphatha” is included in the Rite of Baptism when the priest touches the mouth and ears of the newly baptized.
“Through Baptism, the human person begins, so to speak, to ‘breathe’ the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had invoked from Father with that deep breath, to heal the deaf and dumb man.”
Pope Benedict drew his comments to a close by turning to the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was always fully “open” to the will of her son given that “her heart is constantly listening to his Word.”
“May her maternal intercession help us to experience every day, in faith, the miracle of ‘Ephphatha,’ to live in communion with God and with others,” prayed the Pope.