EPHATHA: A HOMILY ON FRIDAY, 5TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR II
There is a popular saying among many languages in Nigeria that the death of children comes from the fact that someone speaks to them and they refuse to listen, but the death of adults comes from the fact that they see something they should say something about, and they don’t say anything. This is what we see in our readings today. In our first reading, we see the serpent speaking to the woman and asking her about the tree God asked them not to eat. As I child I always had this image that the man was not around when the serpent came and this makes it easier to put all the blame on the woman. But if we go back to the story in Genesis, we will realise that God gave the instructions about the trees at a time when the woman was not yet created. So the instruction was given only to the man. If the woman knew about the instruction, she would have heard it from her husband. When the devil was tempting the woman, the man was right there with her. This is confirmed by the fact that the bible says she gave the fruit to the man who was with her.
Why was he silent? He pretended he did not know what was going on. He was not deaf, but he deliberately chose to be deaf. This is made clear in the gospel, where Jesus cures a man who was deaf and had speech impediment. This man at least was naturally deaf and naturally could not speak. This is worse than a person who can hear, but shuts his ears, a person who can see, but shuts his eyes, a person who can speak but refuses to speak. Many of us keep quiet and look the other way in the face of evil and injustice. We don’t want trouble and we stay as far from trouble as possible. We try to keep everybody happy, not to offend anyone, and so we keep quiet. Let us not be like Adam, but let us be like the man who was brought to Jesus, who has a speech impediment. Let us come to Jesus, and He will put his fingers in our ears and touch our tongue with His spittle and say ‘Ephatha’, which means, be opened. Evil thrive when good people keep quiet. Sometimes, when we are too afraid to confront evil, it continues to grow, until it reaches a point when it will consume us. It is easy to blame the Eves of our society, who may have done something wrong and fallen into certain sins, but they would not have fallen, except for all the Adams who saw the situation and pretended to be blind and deaf, who shut their mouth from speaking out. The Lord says to such Adams, ‘Ephatha!!!’.