33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.
Jesus puts his fingers in the man’s ears and touches the man’s tongue. These were the areas of dysfunction that kept the man as an outcast of the community.
When Jesus puts his hands on a life, he knows exactly where to touch. He does not respond with vagueness or general concern. Instead we find that Jesus has specific understanding of our limitation.
Empathy keeps us focused on what the other person needs, not what we think will be a good substitute for their lack.
Empathy does not say to a hungry man, “You just need me to pray for you right now.” Instead, empathy looks for a restaurant and says, “Let’s go get something to eat together.”