There is a prayer that is said at the Ritual of Baptism shortly after the actual baptism has taken place, it is called the Ephphatha (be opened) prayer. The prayer goes like this. As the celebrant touches the ears and then the mouth of the child, he prays, “The Lord has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ears to receive His word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.”
We hear Jesus use that same Hebrew word, ephphatha, in the Gospel last Sunday as He cures the deaf man with the speech impediment. Jesus uses this command to allow the man to hear and to speak plainly, in doing so Jesus not only heals the physical nature of the man’s defects but does something even greater. In being deaf and having a speech issue the man has not been allowed to worship in the Temple at Jerusalem. Deformities such as these were looked upon as a punishment by God for some sin of that person or a sin of the parents of the person, thus placing that person at odds with the ability to worship in the Temple area. In healing the man of his infirmities Jesus now allows him to “reconnect” with the Temple worship, bringing him back to that relationship a “good Jew” should have with God.
When the Ephphatha prayer is said at the Baptism of a baby it is a statement as to the sacramental relationship that the child now has with God. It is a statement of hope that the child will grow up in that loving relationship with our Trinitarian God and will not only hear the Word of God but will also act on that word and share it with others! As we reflect on the healing nature of our Lord as well as our own baptismal promises let us ephphatha (be opened) to the Word of God and how it can draw us deeper into that loving relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit! Amen!
Your servant in Christ,