10 Jairus' Daughter & The Hemorrhaging Woman, November 9, 2008

Galatians 2:16-20

Luke 8:41-56

What strikes me this year as I reflect on this morning’s Gospel is the tenderness and compassion Jesus shows to the grief-stricken father and the sorrowing woman. It is in stark contrast to the severe judgment he renders against the Pharisees and the lawyers.

Perhaps it’s when we are most in need that we realize most clearly how much we need tenderness and compassion. The Pharisees and lawyers seem to have forgotten the words of the Proverbs: “Reprove not a scoffer or he will hate you; reprove a wise man and he will love you.”[1] When the Lord rebuked them, they became vehemently hostile against him and began plotting against him. They even called him the Prince of devils. These supposed masters of the Scriptures showed themselves to be the fools, the scoffers whom the word of Scripture rebukes, just as the Lord, the Word of God incarnate, rebuked them.

How different is Jairus’ experience of the Lord, and the hemorrhaging woman’s we read about this morning. The events of this morning’s Gospel are told with great restraint, as is so typical of the Gospels, as though the Gospel writers do not want literary drama to get in the way of experiencing the force of the Lord’s words, or the power of his signs and wonders by which he revealed himself to be the Word of God in whom all things came to be. Their restraint allows one to place oneself directly into the Gospel story, so that the tenderness and compassion of the Lord, and the love he awakens in those whom he saves, can be felt with the vividness of the Lord’s actual presence. There is no resistance to Jesus in those who call on him to save them. Their relationship to him is not that of slave to tyrant, but of lover to lover. There is no question that he is the Lord, the Sovereign Master of the universe and of all space-time. Even so, his severe judgment is experienced as mercy to those who repent, and his absolute sovereignty is experienced as a never-ending self-emptying love of such inexpressible depth and breadth and height that the one who believes is overwhelmed by it and can do no more than to fall down in worship before him in love and adoration even as one is keenly conscious that one is but dust and ashes before him. Christ, the Icon of the invisible Father, the Creator of all things and in whom all things cohere; Christ, the Wisdom of God, the Power of God, and the Love of God, he is himself the mystery hidden from the ages and from generations who has now been made manifest to the saints. And the riches of the glory of this mystery that God wants his saints to proclaim to the nations is the great mystery of his love. It is a love that makes one whole in body and soul and that raises from death to life – not the life of the world that always returns to the dust of the ground, but the life of God’s Holy Spirit that is everlasting.

Christ says to the hemorrhaging woman, and one can feel the tenderness and compassion in his voice: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” He says to Jairus just after Jairus has learned that his daughter has died: “Do not be afraid. Only believe and your daughter will be saved.”

It is clear from these Gospel stories that to be saved means to be made whole in soul and body and to be restored to true life. And it is clear from the experience one has when one places oneself in the presence of the Savior in these Gospel stories that to be made whole and to be restored to life means to be raised up into love; not the love of man that is fickle and that can turn on a dime, but the love of God that is forever faithful even when we are faithless, because God cannot deny himself.[2]

This experiential context tells us what St Paul means when he writes to us this morning in his letter to the Galatians: “A man is not made righteous by works of the law but by faith in Christ Jesus.” To have faith in Jesus is to love Jesus who has so loved us. And to love Jesus is to love one another, as he has commanded us, for God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.[3]

Think back to an experience of love. Did you not feel alive in that moment, alive in a way that is far richer, far deeper than you’d ever experienced before? Even if you were sick or suffering in some way, did not that taste of love make you feel somewhere far beneath the surface of your suffering a wholeness, a joy, a light, a peace that the suffering of this life could not take away? This love that we are granted to experience in this life is, you might say, the hem of Jesus’ garment. Its shadow falls on the earth; and even the shadow is light, for it is the love of Jesus Christ in whom is the life of God, the life that is the light of men.

It is by love that we are saved, that we are made whole, that we are made truly alive. St Paul says in another place that we are saved by grace through faith. Faith and grace are but different textures of divine love. To be saved by grace through faith is to be saved by love through love.

By our baptism, Christ has already touched us, stopped our bleeding and raised us from darkness into light, from sickness to wholeness, from death to life. In Holy Eucharist, we receive the medicine of immortality; we drink from the cup of salvation; we become communicants of life eternal, partakers of the divine nature. The mystery that was hidden from the ages and from the generations, Christ Jesus, himself the hope of divine glory, is in us.

I pray that God will help us to see how sick we are, how dark we are, even how dead we are without his love, so that we will not resist him or rise up against him as did the self-righteous Pharisees, the scribes and the lawyers so smug in the conceit of their own wisdom, but that we will draw near to the Lord in the fear of God, in faith and in love, as did Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman, and place ourselves at his feet in worship and thanksgiving every day, every hour and every moment, asking him to teach us his statutes, to make us to understand his commandments, to make us to know his precepts, that we may learn to love one another as he has commanded us, He Who Is himself the Only Lover of Mankind, He Who Is our Lord and Master. Amen.

[1] Prov 9:8

[2] II Tim 2:13

[3] I Jn 3:23 & 4:16