By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis drew inspiration on Sunday from the Gospel reading of the day to invite all Christians not to turn away from the suffering of their brothers and sisters.
Speaking during the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope reflected on the episode that tells of Jesus’ miraculous healing of a deaf and dumb man.
Do good without ostentation
Pointing out that Jesus always “acts with discretion” as he “does not want to impress people, he is not looking for popularity or success, he just wants to do good to people” the Pope said that “with this attitude, He teaches us that good must be done without clamor and without ostentation”.
But above all, he explained, Jesus – who is fully integrated and part of man’s earthly humanity - makes it clear that the miracle happens thanks to his union with the Father.
“For this reason, he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” And immediately the man was healed: his ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed. Healing was for him an "opening" to others and to the world”.
This story, Pope Francis said, highlights the need for a double healing: healing from illness and physical suffering, and healing from fear that pushes us to marginalize the sick, the suffering, the disabled.
Be open to the needs of our brothers and sisters in need
And urging believers not to “remain deaf and dumb in the face of the suffering of people marked by disease, anguish and difficulty”, the Pope said in today’s world too often the sick and the suffering are seen as a problem, “while they should be an opportunity to show the concern and solidarity of society towards the weakest”.
The Pope said that we too can repeat that miracle by becoming protagonists of that special word: “Ephphatha” - “Be open” with which He restored speech and hearing to the deaf and dumb man.
It is a question, he continued, of opening ourselves up to the needs of our brothers and sisters who are suffering and in need of help, of avoiding selfishness and of closing our hearts.
Jesus, Francis said, came to “open” our hearts, to free us and to make us capable of fully living our relationship with God and with others.
“He became man so that man, whose heart was rendered deaf and dumb by sin, may hear the voice of God, the voice of Love that speaks to his heart, and thus learn to speak the language of love, and in turn translate it into gestures of generosity and self-giving” he said.
The Beatification of Alfonsa Maria Eppinger
Speaking after the recitation of the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled the proclamation of a new Blessed: the Venerable Alfonsa Maria Eppinger, founder of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer, whom he described as a corageous woman and whose "suffering, silence and prayer", he said, provided a testimony of "God's love especially for those who are are sick in body and spirit".
Sister Alfonsa Maria Eppinger is being proclaimed a Blessed today in Strasbourg, France.