This day on which we read the story of Jesus healing the deaf man, is sometimes referred to as “EPHPHATHA DAY”. Saint Mark’s Gospel describes today how Jesus touches a deaf man’s ears and tongue and said “Ephphatha”, which means “be open”.

In Australia today people with hearing impairments communicate using a sign language called “Ausland”. It is a unique Australian language. We hearing people of Australia speak English. Only our deaf community and our aboriginal people communicate using an unique Australian language. Unlike the deaf man in the Gospel story, who had no means of communicating with his world, our deaf communicate perfectly with each other, and through skilled interpreters they also communicate with us. Today’s Gospel story is essentially about “opening up” the means of communication. Jesus does this by “touch”.

This is one of the most moving stories in the Gospel. The power of “touch” is a mighty power indeed. We use our hands to touch, to embrace, to shake hands, to greet each other and to heal each other. We symbolically join our hands to pray to our God. We use our hands to wave to each other. Our deaf brothers and sisters use their hands, the gift of “touch”, to communicate; to say “I love you”; to say “thank you”; to say “the Lord be with you”.

In the Punchbowl Catholic Parish, adjacent to the church, you can find the “Ephphatha Centre” which is a gathering place for the Catholic deaf community of Sydney. If you visit this Centre you will be moved by the healing power of “touch”. Most importantly it is a place where ears and voices are “opened up” enabling people to hear the Good News of Jesus and to proclaim it.

There are many ways of “hearing” the Good News of Jesus and of proclaiming that Good News. Each and everyone one of us has an amazing gift to touch other people and to “open up” Good News about the power of faith, hope and love.

Rev Fr Tom Stevens