Tearing up a new cloak into pieces is an odd thing to do, but such is the nature of symbolic actions for prophets. That the prophet Ahijah tore his cloak into twelve pieces sent a clear message to King Solomon’s servant Jeroboam: the end of Solomon’s rule was near, as was the impending breakup of the tribes of Israel. Against God’s directives, Solomon had married foreign wives and started to worship their gods. This would not do for the nation chosen to be God’s people. Like the cloak, Israel would be broken apart as a result of their infidelity to God.
Against this backdrop, we hear God’s plea for faithfulness in today’s psalm: “I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.” The first commandment is to have no other gods besides God. God alone can be God for us. Nothing and no one else will do. Yet it can be so tempting to seek comfort and security elsewhere, to listen to siren songs that would lead us to the rocks. God longs to heal us, to give us life, and to make us whole, but we are given a free choice. Will we listen?
Jesus shows us what this healing looks like in his encounter with a man who is unable to hear or speak. With a very hands-on healing, Christ opens the ears and mouth of one whose heart had already been open. The Messiah has come. Unbound, unclogged, unblocked, the man can only testify to the marvelous works of God. Given the same opportunity, will we respond with the same joy?