Sunday sermon on the Sunday reading Luke 8:41-56
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
What are the similarities between the woman who was hemorrhaging for 12 years and the ruler of the synagogue, named Jairus? The story of healing of the woman is kind of sandwiched in between Jairus asking the Lord to save his daughter and Jesus going to his house.
Christ did many things, He said many things in His three years of ministry, but not everything was written down in the Gospels, the evangelists simply did not have enough space to write everything, but they did write the most important aspects of the teaching of Christ.
So what is the connection between this woman who was suffering for 12 years and Jairus? They both showed courage and faith – two important characteristics of any believer.
The hemorrhaging woman showed courage by showing up in the city among the people. By the Jewish laws of that time, she was considered unclean because of her sickness. She had to live outside the city, alone, because anyone who came in contact with her also became unclean.
And she showed up in the crowd that was pushing and shoving, trying to get closer to Jesus. No doubt she had to push her way through, touching a lot of people, making them “unclean.”
But she had to do it. She spent all her money on doctors, who were not able to help her, so Christ was her last resort. Perhaps this was the courage of a person who had nothing to lose, but her faith that by simply touching the end of His garment she would be healed, drove her desire.
Jairus, on the other hand, showed courage as a ruler of synagogue, someone who looked after it, prepared it for services and made sure everything was set. We know that Jesus taught and preached in synagogues, even performing some miracles. These miracles infuriated some of the Jews because He was doing it on Sabbath day. And He was kicked out of some synagogues. No doubt He was not a welcome guest there.
But Jairus also had no choice. Christ was his last resort as well. His only child was on a deathbed and he was scared to lose her, like any parent would be. So he came to Jesus begging to lay His hands upon her and save her.
Hemorrhaging woman had to confess why she touched Jesus. A very unpleasant thing to do because a lot of people realized that in order to get to Christ, she pushed through them; hence making them “unclean.”
Christian life is also unpleasant because sometimes we do things that require a lot of courage, things that might look weird or unnecessary to others. For example, confessing our own sins before the Lord. Thankfully we don’t have to do it publicly, like that woman did, but we still do it in the presence of Christ, before His Gospel and His Cross, with the priest witnessing it. Not an easy thing to do.
As Christ said, “Only the sick require the doctor, not the healthy.” Christ came to save sinners, not the righteous. And the fact is all of us are sinners. All of us are in need of salvation.
Confession is one of the tools that is given to us to help us get back on the right track. The preparation for confession – the prayers beforehand, the examination of our conscience, paying attention to what those closest to us tell us about ourselves, all these things help us prepare for confession itself.
And confession is not simply feeling sorry for the sins we have committed. If we are in court before the judge, we can say we are sorry. But when we are before the Judge of the souls, before our Creator, feeling sorry is only the beginning of confession.
Drastically changing our lives, turning away from our bad ways, doing something about the sins we committed – this is confession.
There was a person that was coming to me for confession on a regular basis and confessing the same things every time. I could see that he was getting comfortable with committing the same sins, realizing that they are indeed sins, confessing them, but not doing anything about it. So one day I asked, “When are you going to start fixing up your spiritual life? When are going to try to change something and not fall into the same trap?”
It’s easy to confess the same things, or perhaps nothing at all, over and over again at confession. But that will not get us anywhere. The goal is to improve our life by changing ourselves.
Confession is like peeling an onion. We can’t constantly be peeling the same layer because we won’t get anywhere. At least trying to change some part of our life, will help us dig deeper into the heart of the problem, to root out the sin.
To get to the second layer of the onion, we take off the first layer completely, we change the onion, now the second layer is the top layer, and the process begins anew.
And so we change ourselves, when we go through the whole process of confession. Confession is also called second baptism. By the grace of God, after confession we come out as new human beings. Not perfect yet, but new. Having shaken off one layer of our old self and getting to work on the next one.
Not a pleasant process, but with courage and faith, it is attainable.
And may the Lord, after this process, say to us the same words He said to the woman, “Child, your faith has made you well. Depart in peace.”
Unless otherwise specified, the articles here are posted by Father Aleksey, who has no sense of humor and is extremely straight forward.