“He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” ~ Mark 7:37
Sin enters the world in today’s 1st Reading (Genesis 3:1-8) as Adam and Eve fall victim to the Prince of Lies in the Garden of Eden. It’s interesting to listen in on the serpent’s sales pitch as he encounters Eve, who, upon explaining to the serpent that she and Adam may eat of the fruit of any tree in the Garden with the exception of the tree in middle, the tree of knowledge, lest they die, receives this response from the cunning serpent in his last ditch effort to appeal to their previously unrevealed pride: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.”
Many of our leaders today clearly yearn to be like gods. Their delusion and hubris culminates in the belief that they possess the knowledge and power to brazenly re-invent what is good and what is evil. Many do not merely seek equality with God; apparently even that is not good enough. As such, truths are juxtaposed, roles are reversed, and suddenly those who seek to defend the rights of the most vulnerable, the unborn for instance, are re-cast as villains. Defenders of traditional marriage as taught to us by God are written off as haters.
The list goes on and on.
It would appear as though these individuals who have twisted God’s truth have also taken each and every one of the serpent’s words in today’s passage to heart, believing that they “certainly will not die,” and thus never stand before God in judgment for the lives that they have lived, the truths they have abandoned, and the trusting constituents whom they have betrayed.
The devil's lie is largely predicated on the false notion that sin brings fulfillment. In reality of course sin robs us of fulfillment. Sin doesn't make life interesting; it makes life empty. Sin doesn't create adventure; it blunts it. Sin doesn't expand life; it shrinks it. Sin's emptiness inevitably leads to boredom. When there's fulfillment on the other hand, when there's beauty, when we see God as he truly is; an endless reservoir of fascination and wonder, boredom becomes impossible.
In today’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37) Jesus heals the deaf may with a cry of Ephphatha! which means “be opened.” In his relationship with us, Jesus encourages us to be open. To be open to his will, to his teachings, to his ideas on forgiveness and repentance, to the unending flow of divine graces we receive by virtue of the very fact that we are the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. We must seek to hear his gentle voice amidst the seemingly limitless number of cable channels, the “influencers” of Instagram, the “trenders“ on Twitter and all the other incessant noise that permeates our culture today.
Jesus desires to “do all things well” within us, but he seeks our cooperation in the process. Will we surrender to his will and look to serve him or will we instead seek to achieve equality with God as Adam and Eve did? For to quote the legendary C.S. Lewis, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All those who are in hell chose to be there. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever fall short of it. For those who seek shall find. And for those who earnestly knock, the door shall be opened.
May our ears too be open. Ephphatha.