Sunday sermon on the Gospel lesson from Luke 8:41-56
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
So much in our life depends on faith.
We do not go a day without faith.
When we set our alarm clock at night, we have faith that it will not break down overnight and we won’t be late to work. When we send out kids off to school, we have faith that the teachers will act professionally and the school system will provide a good and nurturing education. When we vote for a politician, we have faith that they will not be corrupt, that they did not lie during their campaign, and that they will not forget that they are the servants of the people, and not the other way around. When we cross the street, we have faith that the drivers will let us pass.
In other words, daily we express faith in other people or things. And here is the thing about faith – it’s something we express, it’s something we have and do, but it depends on a reaction or behavior of someone or something that we have faith in.
Faith is not one-sided, it is reciprocal. I believe that the teachers will provide necessary education for my children, while the teachers believe that I will reinforce my children’s knowledge at home by doing homework with them, or at the very least provide a space for further growth.
Daily we act on faith and trust. If we desired assurances before every decision we made, then we would never get anywhere.
In today’s Gospel lesson we heard about acts of faith of one particular woman. She was suffering from hemorrhages for some twelve years. She was suffering for a long time. It says that she put her trust, her faith, into doctors. In fact, she spent all her money on doctors, yet no one could cure her.
If she were looking for assurances of her healing before putting her trust into the doctors, she would have never gotten anywhere. The doctors couldn’t help her not because they were bad doctors, but because she was really sick. Still, she showed faith.
People who were visibly sick like her – people who were bleeding or had leprous skin diseases – were shunned by the society. In fact, they were exiled outside the city walls, they were forced to live alone in a desert, and in most cases die alone there. This was done for a very good reason – cities had to guard against contagion, which, if it happened, would be unstoppable in those days.
So, this woman lived in such exile. She was not allowed to appear in public places or come in contact with anyone. She would’ve faced execution if she were caught.
She showed faith and courage by showing up in the crowd that was pressing and pushing in hopes of getting close to Jesus. She had no assurances that she won’t be caught. She had no assurances that she would get close enough to the Lord or that He is even able to heal her. But she acted on faith, she believed, she trusted that she will find healing or die trying.
When she got close enough to Jesus, she had a few choices of action – tell Him who she is and what she is doing there or not. If she revealed everything right away, the crowd, very likely, would have thrown her out.
So instead, in faith that Jesus is the one Who can help her, even through His clothing, she touched the edge of His garment. Again, she went through all of this with no assurances that it will work, but faith alone.
When the woman was healed, when Christ asked who touched Him, she acted in faith again – in faith that the crowd will not throw her out, because she was truly healed. She came forward trembling and declared in the presence of the whole crowd why she was there and why she touched the Lord.
In response, Christ affirmed that her faith made her well. Which instance of her faith made her well? Is it when she trusted the doctors? Or maybe when she had courage to show up in the crowd? Or was her faith expressed in touching the garment of Christ? When Christ said, “Your faith made you well,” He meant all of these instances, because one there would not be the other.
As I said earlier, faith is reciprocal – the woman acted on her faith and Jesus healed her because of her faith.
It takes faith and courage for us to come before God. It might not always make sense to us or to those around us, we have no specific assurances of anything, yet still we come.
We come, we believe, we act on our faith because faith is reciprocal. Even though we have no assurances, we do have promises made by Christ.
For example, He promised to forgive us, if we are ready to acknowledge our wrongdoing and work towards improving. He promised that those who believe in Him will also do the works that He does (John 14:12). And He promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20).
When we act on faith, we have no idea where it will take us. We can’t be sure because it depends on how someone or something reacts to our faith. The woman had no idea how the crowd or Christ would react to her being among them.
But in her example, we know for sure how Christ reacts to our faith. We have no assurances from no one and nothing else, but with Christ we do have assurances for our faith. God always reacts to our faithfulness with His own faithfulness.
May we also one day hear the words that the woman heard, “Your faith has made you well, go in peace.”