One can tend to understand Jesus’ encounter with the deaf man as something that belongs to the past. However, that event has a deeper meaning because it is closely related to the sense of Christian sacramental initiation.
The healing of the deaf has to be understood in the same context as other Jesus’ miracles. Jesus usually asks the person about his/her faith before performing a miracle. Very often, He commends not so sin again, i.e. live according to the Gospel message. It shows that every physical healing has its spiritual purpose. The healing of the deaf is also to be read in the spiritual context. Thanks to the gift of hearing, the deaf man can hear the Gospel. Thanks to the ability to speak, he can be a preacher of the great grace he has been given. Yes, Jesus asks not to tell anyone about the miracle. It is the “Messianic secret” in Mark’s Gospel, i.e. Jesus’ order given to those healed not to spread the information about what happened. However, at the end of the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus commissions to “go into the world and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). The deaf man is healed not only for the sake of his physical well-being but also in order to be saved and bring others to faith.
Baptised children experience a similar encounter with Jesus. In the ritual of baptism, there is an optional Rite called “Ephphatha”. The celebrant touches the ears and mouth of the baptised child and says: “May the Lord Jesus, who made the deaf to hear and the mute to speak, grant that you may soon receive his word with your ears and profess the faith with your lips, to the glory and praise of God the Father”. This prayer emphasises that baptism opens the way of salvation for them. It also shows that it is just the first step on the pilgrimage of life. There is a need for growing in faith that is possible by hearing about God, experiencing a life of faith, and fulfilling Jesus’ will of professing and proclaiming the Gospel to others. Baptism enables one to be even more attentive to God’s message and become an authentic witness to the truth that is known, accepted, lived through and proclaimed in words and actions.
Łukasz Gołąb – Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Sydney, Australia
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