|10 - Jairus' Daughter, Hemorrhaging Woman, Nov 5, 2017|
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The setting for our Gospel this morning is death. Jairus’ daughter is dying, it says; but so also is the hemorrhaging woman if her flow of blood is not stopped. What the LORD heals them from, then, is death.
We read these Gospels in the mind of the Church, not with a worldly mind. These healings or raisings from the dead are signs of the Resurrection on the Last Day to eternal life now open to all. They are not signs that God will heal us of every sickness and disease in this life so that we may live without suffering in this world to a ripe old age – and then die.
Remember the teaching of Holy Scripture: “God did not make death, nor does He take pleasure in the destruction of the living. Death came into the world through the envy of the devil, and ungodly men with their works and words called death to them. Thinking it their friend, they were consumed by it” (Wisd 1:13-15 & 2:24). We are enslaved to death and its fruits, sickness and disease of every kind, by the disobedience of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve. But, we ourselves, in fear of death (e.g., Rom 5:12), choose to follow the broad and easy path of least resistance; it is the choice we make to indulge the comforts and pleasures of our body and not to pursue the narrow path of ascetic discipline, meekness and humility and to fight the spiritual laziness of the old man in us. Our eyes opened to our nakedness by our disobedience, we have become blind to our vanity and conceit. We take sentimental feeling for the grace of the Holy Spirit, the wisdom of our own opinions as divine revelation, our general decency as sainthood. Witlessly, we feel entitled to a life free of suffering and pain.
When, therefore, we read Gospels like this morning’s in this mind, and we see that to believe in Christ does not heal us of every sickness and disease, either we dismiss it as a fairy tale for the weak-minded, or we become angry and bitter because God does not heal us as we believe He should.
Let’s not give in to such foolishness. Such thinking is manifestly of the devil. It sets me above God as though He is accountable to me rather than I to Him.
For, of what benefit is a robust, healthy life in this world when “even the young and strong die?” So we are reminded in the Canon of Repentance. Whether we live robust and healthy for 6 years, for 60 or even 600, what will it gain us on the day we finally die – if our soul is spiritually dead? In fact, a life without suffering may then be revealed as a curse because it made us blind to our spiritual destiny and to the root cause of our soul’s spiritual poverty. There was no incentive to come to our senses and begin the ascetic work of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, learning humility, cultivating a broken spirit in order to lose our life for the sake of Christ and His Gospel – i.e., His Holy Resurrection – that we may find it in His Holy Resurrection on the day – whenever that will be, tomorrow or a thousand years from now – we die.
Disobedience is the cause of death; death is the result of disobedience. Death and disobedience go together. Their fundamental mark is idolatry or self-love. Like plants pulled from the soil, we live for a time on this earth; but then we begin to wither, grow old, and die because in our heart we are rooted not in love for God but in love for the world that is passing away: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. In the corruption of our disobedience and the idolatry of self-love, we are wounded by sickness and disease of every kind; and, finally, we die.
Our LORD Jesus Christ was also wounded in His Holy Passion – because of His self-emptying love, not because of self-esteem. He emptied Himself; i.e., He denied Himself even to the point of death on the Cross. And, He suffered death because of His obedience, not because of His disobedience. This is why He shattered death by His death. He shattered disobedience by His obedience. This is why the wounds of our soul and the death of our spirit, our heart, are healed by His wounds – if we believe in Him as did Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman.
It’s in this deeper theological or spiritual setting of the Church that we understand the meaning of the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman, which is also a resurrection. They are signs of the eternal life given in Christ’s Holy Resurrection to those who believe in Him. We, today, here and now, can draw near to Him as did Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman and begin today, even in this body enslaved to sickness and death, to live in the eternal life given to all who draw near in the fear of God, with faith and love, in the mystery of the LORD’s Holy Pascha.
It says in our Gospel this morning for the Unmercenary saints, Cosmas and Damian, that the LORD gave to His twelve disciples power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. This power the LORD gave to his holy disciples is His Holy Spirit, as we hear the Psalmist say: “You send forth Your Spirit and they are created; You renew the face of the earth” (103:30 LXX). This is the power that “went out” from Him when the woman with the flow of blood touched the hem of His garment and was healed; it is the power by which Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead. And, dear faithful, it is the power that goes out from the altar of the Church, carried in every word and deed, every sacrament, every prayer of the Church – for the Church is the very Body of Christ (Eph 1:23), the pillar and foundation of Truth (I Tim 3:15), the Font, even the “Beginning” (arche) of our Resurrection in the eternal life of Christ our LORD, our God and Savior.
That means that when you came to St Herman’s this morning, you drew near mystically to Christ in the company of Jairus and the woman with the flow of blood. When you get up from your couch to stand before the icon in your home, you are drawing near mystically to Christ in the company of Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman. And, when you fight not to give in to your spiritual laziness but to listen in your heart to the words of the Church’s prayers, given to you, both at home and in the worship of the Church, you are reaching out mystically with the hemorrhaging woman to touch the hem of the Savior’s garment. And, what is this garment worn by the LORD Jesus if it is not the Light of His Holy Resurrection, the Robe of Glory with which He clothes Himself as with a garment?
The power of the Holy Spirit going out to you in the prayers and words of Christ’s Body, the Church, when you say those prayers with attention from your heart; the power of the Holy Spirit that is made incarnate in the Living Bread and Cup of Holy Eucharist when you eat and drink the LORD’s precious Body and Blood in a broken and contrite spirit; that power of the Holy Spirit goes out from the LORD and penetrates your heart to sow in you the death of Jesus Christ and to cover you with His wounds!
And what is His death? It is His perfect obedience to the Father by which He has destroyed our disobedience and the death that goes with it! What are His wounds? The wounds He suffered in His inexpressible compassion for us by which our wounds are healed!
Here is the mystery that is foolishness to those who reject Christ’s Holy Cross! When we draw near in the fear of God, with faith and love, to touch the hem of Christ’s garment in the prayers and sacraments of the Church, we receive into our souls the wounds of His infinite compassion by which the wounds of our souls are healed; we receive into the tomb of our heart His perfect obedience by which our disobedience is destroyed. Thus, our dying and our death are made in Christ to become the death of our death, and so the healing of our every sickness and disease, the Beginning of our resurrection to eternal life! The “proof” is the peace and joy of Christ that clothes us, our Hope of Glory, such that we can feel Christ’s Holy Spirit healing us and transforming us deep within even now in the sufferings of this life, giving us to know in the assurance of faith that our dying has become, in the power of Christ’s Holy Spirit, the death of our death and the beginning of our resurrection to eternal life! Amen!