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Homily for 11/11/07 - P24 - qualities of faith

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  • Fr David Moser
    Luke 8:41-56 We have today two different accounts of healing in the Gospel. While these accounts are different on the surface, they are, in fact closely
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 11 2:22 PM
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      Luke 8:41-56

      We have today two different accounts of healing in the Gospel. While
      these accounts are different on the surface, they are, in fact closely
      related – so much so that one is “nested” within the other in the
      narrative. We begin by hearing of the plight of Jairus, the ruler of the
      synagogue, or local congregation. His daughter was ill and she was
      dying. He had sought out Jesus to ask Him to come and heal her. While on
      the way to the home of Jairus, Jesus suddenly stops and asks who touched
      Him. This was an odd question, not because no one had touched Him, but
      because there was a great crowd around Him and He was constantly being
      jostled, bumped and touched. But this touch was different, this touch
      was from a woman who had been ill with a hemorrhage of blood for many
      years and reached out to touch Jesus so that she might be healed. Her
      healing, while unrelated to the plight of Jairus on the surface had some
      very important underlying connections.

      Both the daughter of Jairus and the woman, who we know as Veronica, were
      losing their life little by little. Jairus’ daughter lay on her bed
      obviously wasting away while Veronica was constantly losing blood.
      Blood, as the father’s tell us, is the life of the soul and thus when
      one bleeds, one is losing their very life. To bleed constantly as
      Veronica did, was to lose your life a little at a time. Both of these
      women, the young daughter and the older Veronica were wasting away,
      their life draining from them. Veronica, like Jairus, sought out Jesus
      as the only one who could heal her, and restore her to life. She entered
      the crowd and moving toward our Lord at the center did not consider
      herself worthy to call for His attention, but knew that she only need to
      touch Him in order to be healed. She reached out to touch not his arm or
      hand or any other part of Him, she didn’t try to speak to Him, but
      rather only to touch the hem of His garment. Because of her bleeding,
      she was considered to be “unclean” under the law and she knew that her
      uncleanness would “pollute” whatever and who ever she touched. But the
      hem of the garment was considered in the law to be always unclean for it
      touched the ground constantly. She thought that if she touched the hem
      of Jesus’ garment, she would not taint Him with her uncleanness and yet
      she would herself be healed. This she did and was indeed healed. But at
      that moment, Jesus stopped and asked who had touched Him, for He noticed
      the difference in the purposeful touch of faith and the unconscious
      jostling of the crowd. When Veronica finally spoke up and admitted to
      being the one who had touched Him and confessed her healing, our Lord
      spoke to her warmly and with love pointing out that she had been healed
      due to her own faith.

      All this time, Jairus’ daughter lay wasting away and every moment spent
      with this distraction was taking time. Jesus continued on to the home of
      Jairus but before they arrived, they were met with other servants from
      the house bearing bad news. “Do not trouble Jesus any longer, your
      daughter has died,” they said. This news must have sent Jairus spinning
      into despair and regret – possibly even anger. Had they not stopped
      perhaps they would have been on time; had this woman not sought her own
      healing, perhaps his daughter would not have died; had Jesus simply kept
      silent and continued on, knowing his daughter’s illness, then perhaps
      she would be well again. All these thoughts and more must have crossed
      the mind of Jairus in that instant, along with the inconsolable grief of
      losing a child. But Jesus, knowing the heart of Jairus, just as He knew
      the heart of Veronica, turns to him and gently admonishes him, “Fear
      not, only have faith”. Faith, this is the second similarity between
      these two events. Jesus had just healed Veronica, saying to her that she
      had been healed on account of her faith, and now He turns to Jairus, who
      had this example fresh in his mind and says to him likewise, “have
      Faith” Jairus, taking heart in the words of Jesus Christ, put aside his
      fear and followed Jesus. He had no reason to doubt the word of his
      servants and believe that his daughter would really be alive still. He
      did, however, have faith – faith which caused him to set aside his own
      doubts and fears and to obey Jesus. Even as they came to the house,
      Jairus continued to act in obedience to the instruction of Christ,
      holding on to the faith that he had. Jesus came to the bedside of the
      child and dismissing everyone but the parents and his closest disciples,
      he took her hand and said to her “Arise”. And immediately her spirit
      returned to her and she arose and began to eat. Because of her father’s
      faith, her life was restored to her.

      Many people in the crowd that followed Christ had faith – why else would
      they have followed Him except to hear from Him the words of life.
      However only these two Jairus and Veronica are singled out. What is it
      that made their faith different such that they stood out from the
      others? As we look at the faith of each one, we will see what those
      qualities were that set them apart from the others.

      Veronica had faith in the healing and life giving power of Christ. Her
      faith was set apart by her particular quality of humility. She did not
      consider herself worthy to draw the attention of Jesus Christ to
      herself, and yet she knew that He was the only source of life which
      would stop the gradual leaking away of her own life. She did not throw
      herself in his path like the paralyzed man who was lowered through the
      roof right in front of Christ; nor did she call out His name as He
      passed like the blind man. She did not draw attention to herself in any
      way, but reached out touched only the hem of His garment – the one place
      where her uncleanness would not taint Him. She considered herself to be
      unworthy of His attention or even of causing Him a small inconvenience.
      She considered herself to be less than all those around her – through
      her illness, she had acquired the virtue of humility. This humility was
      the characteristic which set her apart from all those around her; this
      humility was the quality which empowered her faith and which opened the
      door to the flow of grace so that even the slightest touch to the hem of
      the garment of Jesus Christ flooded her with Life. Her own wasting death
      was overwhelmed by the Life of Christ and she was healed. All this
      because of her faith which was alloyed with humility.

      Jairus also had faith in the healing and life giving power of Christ.
      His faith was set apart by obedience. Even in the face of seeming
      disaster and hopelessness (trouble the Master no more, your daughter has
      died) he continued to obey Christ. In obedience, he set aside his fear;
      in obedience, he continued to bring the Lord to his daughter’s side; in
      obedience, he withstood the grief, the mocking and unbelief of the crowd
      gathered in his home; in obedience, he brought Jesus to his daughter’s
      bedside. Because of his obedience, the Life of Christ flowed into the
      room and He Who has banished death brought life back to the child and
      returned her alive and whole into her father’s arms.

      These two qualities, humility and obedience, were what set apart the
      faith of Jairus and Veronica from that of all the others in the crowd.
      Humility and obedience are two virtues which are closely linked. The
      Holy Fathers tell us that humility is the mother of all the virtues.
      When one is humble, then he considers all others as better than himself
      and puts all others ahead of himself. In our lives we are naturally
      “self centered” – but humility takes our “self centered” life and
      changes us to become “other centered”. Instead of striving to fulfill
      our own needs and desires, we focus on meeting the needs of those around
      us. If we have humility then from it, all the other virtues will grow
      and it is a short step from being “other centered” to being “Christ
      centered”. The question to ask then is how do we obtain humility. In
      answer to this, the fathers tell us that the quickest way to obtain
      humility is through obedience. If we set aside our own will and instead
      follow the will of another through obedience, then we begin to walk the
      path of humility. For this reason we are born into our parent’s homes
      and for the first 20 years of our lives live “in obedience” to them. If
      we learn to be obedient, setting aside our own will and living instead
      according to the will of our parents through obedience, then we set the
      stage to open our hearts to the mother of all virtues – that is
      humility. Even as adults, in the Church we live lives of obedience.
      Husbands and wives are obedient to one another and when this obedience
      is fulfilled without resentment, bitterness or complaining, but with
      willingness and joy, marriage can become a path to humility. Within the
      Church we also have the opportunity to willingly submit ourselves to
      those who God has placed in authority over us – that is the clergy. And
      even the priest lives in constant willing obedience to his bishop, doing
      nothing without the bishop’s blessing and fulfilling the will of the
      bishop rather than his own. The bishop as well willingly submits himself
      to his brothers in obedience to the will of the holy synod. The whole
      Church is set up as a school of obedience for obedience leads to humility.

      These two qualities, humility and obedience, set apart the faith of
      Jairus and Veronica and their faith opened to both of the floodgates to
      the Life of Christ which filled them. We too have faith, why else would
      we be here in the Church. Let us follow the example that we have been
      shown today and empower our faith with the qualities of obedience and
      humility that we too might receive Life from Christ.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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