|The Gospel account of the deaf-mute, which shows how Jesus restores the full communication of the person with God and neighbor, was the theme of Pope Francis' reflection during yesterday morning's Angelus audience.
The Holy Father explained to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at midday that the miracle takes place in the area of Decapolis, in pagan territory, and therefore the deaf-mute brought before Jesus is transformed into a symbol of the non-believer who completes a journey towards faith. “Indeed, his deafness expresses the inability to listen and to understand not only the words of man, but also the Word of God. And St. Paul reminds us that 'faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ'”.
The first thing Jesus does is to take the man far from the crowd: “He does not wish to publicise the gesture He is about to perform, nor does He want His word to be submerged in the din of voices and the chatter of those around. The Word of God that Christ communicates to us requires silence so as to be received as the Word that heals, reconciles and re-establishes communication”.
Jesus then touches the ears and the tongue of the man to restore, through touch, the communication that had been blocked. But the miracle is “a gift that comes from on high, that Jesus implores from the Father; this is why He lifts His eyes to the heavens and commands, 'Be opened'. And the deaf man's ears open, the knot in his tongue is untied and he begins to speak correctly”.
This passage teaches us that “God is not closed in on Himself, but instead opens up to and communicates with humanity. In His immense mercy, He overcomes the abyss of the infinite difference between Him and us, and comes towards us. In order to communicate with humanity, God becomes man. It is not enough for Him to speak to us through the law and the prophets; He makes Himself present in the person of His Son, the Word made flesh. Jesus is the great 'bridge-builder' who constructs in Himself the great bridge of full communion with the Father”.
“But this Gospel also speaks to us about ourselves”, emphasized the Pope. “Often we are caught up and closed in on ourselves, and we create many inaccessible and inhospitable islands. Even the most elementary human relationships at times create situations incapable of mutual openness; the closed couple, the closed family, the closed group, the closed parish, the closed nation … and this is not of God. This is ours, it is our sin”.
“However, at the origin of our Christian life, in baptism, precisely this gesture and this word of Jesus are present: 'Ephthatha!', 'Be opened!'. And the miracle was performed: we were cured of the deafness of selfishness and the muteness of closure and sin, and we become part of the great family of the Church. We are able to hear God Who speaks to us and to communicate His Word to those who have never heard it, or have forgotten it, burying it under the thorns of the worries and deceits of the world”.