Biases, they take all different shapes and sizes in today's world. Some common ways to think of a bias are: an inclination, a prejudice or a leaning of the mind. How do we become biased? Are we aware of our biases? Most importantly, how do we overcome our biases?
In the second reading this week, James reminds us all to “show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” James tells us partiality or bias can be dangerous. It places man in the position of judge and jury which goes against Jesus’ teaching. So, how do we let the biases happen? Biases are influenced by experiences, upbringing and cultural conditioning. All of these factors can cause us to turn a blind eye or “become deaf” to how we should be living.
In the Gospel this week, Jesus is brought a deaf man and begged by the people to lay his hands on him. Jesus puts his finger in the man’s ear and groans “Ephphatha” or “Be opened.” Immediately, the man’s ears are opened and he speaks clearly. He no longer is partial to what he can hear or biased on how he speaks. Jesus teaches us in one word how to be aware of our biases and how to overcome them; “Ephphatha.”
The “Ephphatha Rite” is the Rite completed just prior to an adult being baptized. Just as Jesus opened the ears of the deaf man, the priest “opens the ears and mouth” of the individual. Through baptism, we are given the answers. First, be aware of our biases every time we dip our fingers into the baptismal font. Second, overcome our biases as we sacrifice together through the Eucharist. Finally, take our “open ears” out and be a witness to Christ’s Good Word.