Friday in the 5th Week of the Year, February 14, 2020

Ephphatha!—Be opened!
Wise as he was before, Solomon in his later years became deaf to God; this was the cause of the division of his kingdom.
A sign that Jesus is the Promised Saviour is that he first goes to the poor, the sick, the marginalized people, for they need him most. Not only material poverty is meant. The deaf and the mute, the hard of hearing and the stammers are we who are shut up within ourselves, often closed to God and to one another. Jesus comes to open our ears and mouths to the words and deeds of God, that we may listen to his message and respond to his love, and that we may also hear those who are poor and speak to them. Note that this miracle too happens in pagan territory. Let Jesus in the Eucharist heal us and commit us to God and people.

1 Reading: 1 Kings 11:29-32; 12:19
Jeroboam left Jerusalem, and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road. The two were alone in the area, and the prophet was wearing a new cloak. Ahijah took off his new cloak, tore it into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam: “Take ten pieces for yourself; the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will tear away the kingdom from Solomon’s grasp and will give you ten of the tribes. One tribe shall remain to him for the sake of David my servant, and of Jerusalem, the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’” Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.

Responsorial Psalm PS 81:10-11ab, 12-13, 14-15
R. (11a and 9a) I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.” R.

“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.” R.

“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.” R.

Alleluia cf. Acts 16:14b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mark 7:31-37
Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The kingdom of David, at this early stage, is about to be divided in two. In a symbolic action, the prophet Ahijah tears his cloak into twelve pieces. Only one piece will go to Solomon’s legitimate heir. The other eleven pieces, signifying the remaining eleven tribes of Israel, will form a new kingdom, greater in number and in size than Judah in the south. The sign was an omen of troubles to come. Rebellion was close at hand; the house of David would be assailed. The short-lived United Kingdom was approaching its end.
The prophetic word had already come to Solomon. There had been sufficient warning. But it was also clear that to reject the teaching of Yahweh was to invite disaster.
Can we honestly say that we have never understood God’s moral guidance? Hardly, though it may help to have a spiritual guide or director to assist us in discerning God’s will. We should try to choose a person who is well equipped to understand us, to help us hold a mirror to ourselves, even if the counsel we receive is not what we expected.
The man in the Gospel today had trouble communicating. Jesus corrects the deficit. If we have trouble understanding, by turning to God or a spiritual director, the message will become clearer. It is always worth the effort. This scene is celebrated during every baptism.

Jesus has been with us in this Eucharistic celebration to bring us out of our isolation and to open us, in respect and love, to God and to our neighbour, that is, to all. Like Jesus, may we become available particularly to the needy among us and let them feel that, with God, we too care. May Almighty God give you this openness and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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