|10 - Jairus' Daughter & the Hemorrhaging Woman, Nov 8, 2009|
In the theological vision of the bible, God made man a living soul when He breathed into his mouth and nose the breath of the Holy Spirit. He gave man a commandment so that man could express his love for God by following it. The commandment was to eat from the Tree of Life and not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He warned Adam: “On the day you eat of it – i.e., on the day that you disobey my commandment – on that day you will die.”
Sure enough, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They ate from the serpent’s tree that God told them not to eat from. Did they die on that very day as God said they would? They did not die in soul and body; but they died in their spirit, in the root of their being. Like a flower that dies as soon as it is cut off from its roots in the ground yet retains its bloom for a while, so Adam and Eve retained the bloom of life for a while in soul and body even though the root of their being, their spirit, had been pulled from the ground of God’s Holy Spirit.
Separated from God, we eventually forget God and finally we grow altogether ignorant of Him. We want to live. That’s what we were made for. But when life turns sour, in our ignorance we do not turn to God in repentance in order to live. We turn to the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life like the hemorrhaging woman turned to the many physicians. We believe that the things of the world will give us the good life we want; and they might for a time, but they cannot stop us from getting old; they cannot hold back the inexorable flow of our blood, our life, returning to the dust of the ground like the tide of the sea; and so we live out our earthly life ignorant of God and unrepentant, until finally, like the daughter of Jairus, the flower of our soul and body droops; our life grows dark and empty. Our eyes close, and they do not open again.
If while our soul and body still have their bloom we do not open our eyes to look beneath our earthly life to see our dead spirit lying as the shadow cast by our soul and body on eternity, we will not listen to Christ’s command to repent because we will not see that we have anything to repent of; and the narrow path that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven will be at our back, behind us. Even if we are religious, our religion will be lifeless because it will have no spirit. We will take human speculation or even projected psychological pathology for theology and sentimentality and emotionalism for spirituality. We will have the form of religion but none of its power; for in our soul we will be facing due west, looking into the cold, dark shadow of our dead spirit while the Sun of Christ’s Holy Resurrection rises behind us.
That we are dead in spirit, even though we live in soul and body, this is the lesson of this morning’s Gospel. This morning, if we would let her, I believe the Church would join our hand to that of the hemorrhaging woman reaching out to touch the hem of Christ’s garment and receiving the gift of His Holy Spirit unto the healing of our soul and body and the quickening of our spirit in the mysteries of Christ’s Holy Church.
When we discipline ourselves to remember again and again that no matter how righteous or how good or how religious we think we may be, in our spirit, beneath the life of our soul and body we are dead like the daughter of Jairus in this morning’s Gospel because of our lack of repentance, that is when true prayer begins to stir in us. When we stir ourselves to recall again and again that beneath the life of our soul and body, in our spirit, in the root of our being, we are dead in our trespasses because we are still, beneath our civil religiosity, reaching out with the hand of our soul’s desire to eat from the tree of good and evil, that we have the form of religion but not its power, not its Spirit, that is when the sweet tears of contrition begin to fall invisibly like gentle showers on the ground of our soul and the seed of repentance falls from the mind’s ivory tower into the ground of the heart below. Only then do our inner ears begin to hear the voice of the Word of God sharper than any two-edged sword penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, discerning the secret thoughts and intentions of the heart, and calling out to us as though we were the shepherds abiding in the fields, tending our flock by night, to rise and make our way eastward to the Savior in the cave of Bethlehem. When, in this mind of humble contrition and repentance, we take up the ascetic disciplines of the Church, praying with attention and true feeling, fasting in the joy of a broken and contrite heart, and practicing mercy and charity even to those who hate us, regarding others as better than ourselves in a desire to learn the love of God, that is when we begin to reach out our hand like the hemorrhaging woman to touch the hem of the Savior’s garment.
Beloved faithful, standing here in Christ’s Holy Church, we are even this morning in the presence of the Savior as was Jairus and the woman with the flow of blood. The hem of his garment is within easy reach; indeed it is touching you even now. It is touching your eyes in the beauty of the Church’s divine worship, your ears in the melodious sound of the Church’s doctrines and prayers, your noses in the fragrance of the Church’s incense stirring in your depths the long forgotten memory of the sweet fragrance of the Holy Spirit that permeated Paradise of old. The words you hear in the Church’s divine worship are deified words; they are living words because the Spirit of God dwells in them. What your eyes see in the icons and in the liturgical movements of the Divine Liturgy is a living vision of Christ, for the Spirit of God dwells in them. Christ is here in our midst in the grace of His Holy Spirit. And, just by coming this morning, you have been embraced by the Church who in her motherly tenderness has already oriented you to repentance; for, she has set your face eastward toward Christ who is in our midst in His Holy Resurrection. She even gives you in her prayers and in her worship the words that you can pray, asking Him to come to your house as He came to the house of Jairus to touch your spirit as he touched Jairus’ daughter and raised her to life.
Wisdom! Let us attend! Let us open our ears to hear the Church calling us to come out of hiding with the hemorrhaging woman. See how she lays aside every excuse, every claim of self-righteousness and approaches Christ the Lord with fear and trembling, the fear and trembling of repentance, of humility and contrition. With her, can we not also confess to the Savior how in our spirit we are dead because of our trespasses, our lust, our greed, our anger, our pride, and that none of the things of this world have been able to give us the healing of soul and body that we so long for? I believe Christ in His Holy Church is saying to us as He said to the woman healed of her flow of blood in this morning’s Gospel: “Your faith has saved you. Daughter, arise. Go in peace.”
That means, go in Christ, for Christ is our peace. Go in the way of His commandments; they are the way of peace. And in the healing of Christ’s Holy Spirit even as we touch the hem of His garment, let us draw near in the fear of God, with faith and in love to partake of the Fruit of the Tree of Life in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the love of God the Father, and in the communion of the Holy Spirit. Amen.