Every time we witness a baptism we hear these words: “May the Lord soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.” (Rite of Baptism for Children, #65)
Jesus used touch and the word “Ephphatha!—Be opened.” He was referring to the opening of ears and the freeing of mouths to speak. Can you think of the last time that your ears were opened to hearing something in a new way? Understanding it differently because it was spoken by someone you love or who cares about your well-being? Or perhaps it was a speaker who opened your ears to hear a difficult message, a much-needed message, that changed your way of thinking about an issue—immigration, the sexual abuse in the Church, the death penalty, treatment of the elderly.
Often when we listen to a person with whom we have a special connection, we come to both hear and understand in different ways. The relationship matters. Fear dissipates and we want to reach out and touch. When ears are opened, we often are also given the strength to speak differently about the person(s) we have come to know. Our relationship frees our tongues to speak with compassion and love and to advocate for freedom, justice, and healing.
Jesus wanted everyone to have the fullness of life. He gifted many with the capacity to hear and to speak. Jesus continues to do that today in the words we hear in Scripture. Can we listen to those we disagree with in new ways? Can we keep the dialogue going for longer periods of time? Can we use our mouths, our voices to proclaim what Jesus teaches and what Jesus does for others?
This weekend we pray for “open” ears to hear the voices of all our brothers and sisters—the ones we have a relationship with and those we have yet to meet in person. We pray also that our mouths are freed to speak words that heal rather than divide, words that free us from fear and hatred of persons who are different from us. Perhaps the Prayer of St. Francis will motivate us.
What will I personally pray to “be open” to in my life? How will I choose to use words that come from my mouth? And how will I respond in openness to what Jesus is calling me to when I hear “Be opened?”