March 12, 2009 - Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 24:1-31; St. Mark 7:24-37

And taking him from the crowd by Himself, He put His fingers into his ears, and spit, and touched his tongue, and looking up to heaven, He sighed, and to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is,‘Be opened.’” (St. Mark 7:33-34)

In the name of Jesus. Amen. God is not embarrassed by you. He’s not ashamed of His creation. He doesn’t think your flesh is bad. He created your flesh. He took on your flesh. He redeemed your flesh. Fast from hating your flesh today!

We like to think flesh is evil and spiritual is holy. But that’s the world’s religion. The world thinks that the big deal is getting all spiritual--that’s real religion! Spiritual-sounding prayers, spiritual things, spiritual actions. Everyone knows that spiritual is better than flesh, right?

Then along comes Jesus, who spits on the ground, sticks his fingers in the deaf man’s ears, and touches His tongue. Gross! Not very spiritual at all!

Here we have a Savior who is so fleshy that He puts fingers not on, but in the man’s ears, into the place where ear wax is, spits, and then touches his tongue. Are you surprised that Jesus is that fleshy?

You shouldn’t be. Think back to when He got down on His hands and knees in the dirt to make Father Adam. He played in the mud on the sixth day of creation. Why wouldn’t He get down and dirty before someone who can’t hear or talk?

“Ephphatha! Be opened!” The man’s ears were opened. His tongue was loosed! This healing has spit, ear wax, and Jesus touching a tongue! You don’t get more fleshy than that!

Jesus is not way up in heaven locked away from us! No, He is right where you are. He cares about what you care about. Right in the muck and mire of your life. Where your sins are, there He is with His forgiveness. Where your death is, He’s got life. He has opened your ears. He has loosed your tongue. He has redeemed your flesh. Not with spitting, but with water and with His Body, and His Blood.

There is a point in the ancient baptismal rites when the pastor, like Jesus, puts his fingers into the ears of the candidate and says, “Ephphatha, be opened!” There, at the baptismal font, our ears are opened and our tongues are loosed. Christ’s redemption is delivered to us. His forgiveness washes us and makes us clean--from the top of our head to the tips of our toes.

All of your flesh has been cleansed. All of your flesh is holy. All of you--even your ears with all their wax and your tongue with all your spit. That’s how down-to-earth, in your world, your Jesus is! In the name of Jesus—Amen