Twelfth Sunday After Trinity.
"And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb or deaf or the seeing or the blind? have not I the Lord?" Exodus 4:11.
Thus God said to Moses when Moses lamented that he was not able to speak to the children of Israel with such a loud voice, that they would hear. Moses said to the Lord: "I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue." Moses put this as an excuse when God commanded him to go and lead the children of Israel out of the house of bondage. And to Moses this was a reluctant journey because he guessed that a dog's office is not something pleasant when he must battle with the sorrowless. Then Moses put this as an obstacle, that he had a slow speech and a stiff tongue. But the Lord asked him? "Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf or the seeing or the blind? have not I the Lord?" In this place is heard as though God would have made some deaf and dumb, but in other Bible passages is heard that God has not made some deaf or dumb, but the devil has. If we now grant that the naturally deaf and dumb have in creation gotten their defect by God permitting it to happen, as for example, Moses had in creation become of a slow speed and a stiff tongue - although this defect did not hinder much either when he received power from God to speak the truth; nevertheless, the spiritually deaf and dumb cannot accuse God that they have become deaf and dumb, if we do not take that Bible passage for a protection for old adam, where God says to Prophet Ezekiel in the third chapter 26th verse: "And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of they mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house," There it is surely heard as if God would even put this to the sorrowless nation for a punishment, that the prophet shall become dumb so that he can no more rebuke the sorrowless people because they are rebellious and do not want to hear reproof. But nevertheless the Lord rebukes Moses on the other hand at the water of strife, that he was not rightly zealous to speak in God's behalf the truth to the ungodly people. If we take all these Bible passages rightly under consideration, then we find that the naturally deaf and dumb have received that defect in creation, perhaps for a punishment, reminder, and warning for their parents, who have been deaf and dumb in that place where they should have spoken the truth. But a spiritually deaf and dumb person cannot lay the blame on God for that, but it is the devil who makes even the Christians deaf and dumb, where they should speak God's truth. Jesus sighs today over the deaf and dumb who are brought to Him and the Christians can surely warn themselves that Jesus would not have cause to sigh over them, if they become deaf and dumb and are no more able to speak the truth to the world. Then the sorrowless have occasion to say: "Now we can go to hell in peace for the Christians' sake; they no longer bark at anyone. The Christians have now settled down."
O Lord Jesus, open the ears of all the deaf to hear and loose all the dumb ones' tongues so that hereafter you would not need to sigh over the deaf and the dumb. Hear, you Healer of the deaf and dumb, the sigh of the sorrowful and penitent: Our Father which art in Heaven, and so forth.
Gospel Mark 7:31-37.
With the guidance of our Holy Gospel and following that which was spoken above, we should through God's grace at this moment of grace consider, how the ears of the deaf are opened and how the dumb are able to speak again.
First consideration: In what way are the ears of the deaf opened? We have all in a natural condition been deaf and dumb, as you know and well remember that time, when God's Word went like a hum over your head, in one ear and out through the other, at that time not a single word ever came near the heart. But when the Word of God began to be preached in the right order and Jesus cried with a loud voices "Ephphatha", then a few deaf ones' ears opened to hear and listen to God's Word with different ears then before, and then God's Word effected a great devotion, Then there was also a great desire to hear and learn, but when the first fervency began to cool, this fervency and this desire after hearing the Word of God ended. The world began to get more and more room in the Christians' hearts; they no more had so much time to come to hear God's Word. This end of the first fervency is probably not the fault of the doctrine nor in a change in the word, but in the Christians' own laziness and carelessness, in lack of love, in unwatchfulness, and perhaps in spiritual sleep, which comes over the disciples in the Garden where Jesus sweats blood. And although three times He came to awaken them, just the same the sleep of sin forced itself upon them, so that they see the suffering of the Heavenly Parent as through a stupor of sleep, and finally do not know from where this terrible suffering comes or what it effects. Behold now, you disciples of Jesus, and listen if Jesus even today sighs over us. He does not sigh only for the sorrowless, who are deaf and dumb, but He sighs even for those whose ears were once opened when He cried: "Ephphatha", but which are again becoming deaf, which comes from this that the Christians do not protect their ears from the wind of the world. If the world's cold wind manages to blow in the ear, especially during sleep, then surely deafness will soon come. Do not give Jesus reason to sigh over you, surely Jesus has once before sighed heavily over you, that He would not need to sigh again a second time.
Second consideration: In what way do the dumb receive the power to speak? As you know we have all been dumb in the sorrowless condition. One brother has not said to his brother: "Know the Lord." None have asked of the travelers to eternity: "Where are you going?" But the travelers to eternity went deaf and dumb, all those standing on the shore of mortality stood there deaf and dumb so that scarcely one said farewell to the travelers, nor did the travelers leave salutations to those left behind. But then when Jesus took hold of the dumb one's tongue through this awakening, the dumb one's tongue became loosed and he spoke clearly. Then many could thank God for that great grace that the Great Creator had in His mercy opened the deaf one's ears and loosed the bond of the dumb one's tongue. Then the lame leaped like deer on Mount Zion and the dumb tongues burst into praise. But now the greatest portion have again become deaf and it sounds as if there would be no cause to thank. This dumbness can not be the fault of the doctrine, which, as far as I know, has not in any place bound the Christians' tongues nor stopped up their mouths. But the Christians' own laziness and carelessness which has come from the love of the world, unwatchfulness, and spiritual laziness. Take heed you disciples of Jesus, watch, if you would become deaf and dumb then Jesus will sigh over you and look up to Heaven! And although we yet have that hope that the Heavenly Father will hear the sighs of His Son and give Him Strength to cry, "Ephphatha!" that is: "Be opened!", so that the ears of the deaf will yet open and the tongue of the dumb will burst into praise. But it is not pleasant for me to hear Jesus' sighs over the deaf and dumb, whose ears once were opened and whose tongues formerly burst into praise.
Do not wonder, dear brothers, that I reproach you for spiritual laziness and slowness to run in the battle, as your conscience may testify that there is slowness; that there is a fault both in the hearing as well as in the speaking. And I can not say that I am better, but it seems like God wants to begin to awaken and hurry us, so that we by spiritual laziness would not weary of running toward that great goal which has been placed before us. For we hear now that hard times stand before us; that God wants to try our faith. Jesus has said: "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered abroad," When the great and mighty in the world rise up against Jesus, then are the disciples together in prayer. And I truly believe that God yet can scatter and make as nothing the advice of Ahithophel.
But the Great Shepherd of Israel, who has Himself gathered His sheep with great trouble in that cloudy time, when the sheep were scattered as goats on the Mount of Israel. The Great Shepherd of Israel who has trod those heavy and toilsome footsteps and sought lost sheep on Mount Sinai, by the shore of the Red Sea, and beside the River Jordan, and who Himself herds, tends, and cares for His sheep and carries them to the best pasture and leads them to living water. May He shelter, strengthen and protect His own sheep from cold, snowstorms, and tempests, so that they may be protected from the wolf's teeth, the lion's claws, and the dragon's jaws, that the trembling and ravaged sheep of Jesus may soon reach eternity's blissful shore and Mount Zion to leap as deer, where not a single wolf will tear or ravage Jesus' sheep anymore. There the lion's roaring will be heard no more and the great dragon and old serpent, called the devil and satan, who is the seducer of the whole world, he is now cast out of Heaven. Rejoice ye Heavens! But woe to those who live in the earth and the sea, for the dragon shall come having great wrath, knowing that he has a short time! Be now in good refuge, you thrushes and finches. Soon shall you be able to sit on the branches of the living vine and sing songs of praise to the Great Creator who has given you life! Amen, Halleluja! Amen.