Thursday, October 23, 2008

23rd Sunday after Pentecost 19.10.08 Sermon

23rd Sunday after Pentecost 19.10.08 Trust in God

The global financial crisis is claiming casualties in terms of despair and suicide. People are killing themselves and sometimes their families to avoid facing the shame of financial ruin.

This is terribly sad, of course, and something that should never happen. No matter what crises we face we should take refuge in God and He will deliver. If Job had committed suicide, what then? (His wife did actually advise him to... curse God, and die).

We do face a lot of crises in the course of one lifetime, and we are often tempted to lose hope, but God keeps reminding us that He is with us and that we should trust Him to help.

The two miracles in today’s Gospel show faith at work, particularly strongly in the case of the woman who reasoned that if she could just touch the hem of Our Lord’s garment she would be healed (and she was).

Almighty God seems to be saying to us, that if we only believed Him, believed in Him, and placed all our requests before Him with confidence then He would grant them immediately.

Why are not all prayers answered? It could be we did not pray with faith. It could be it is not God’s will to grant that particular request. It could be that it is His will, but that the thing we ask for needs more prayer over a longer period of time (eg world peace, the salvation of all souls).

Whatever the blockage, we should never conclude that God either does not exist, or does not care about us.
We must never doubt either His existence or His closeness to us. He has not gone away, He has not fallen asleep; He has not stopped loving us.

So we come back with more prayer, and we feel our way towards Him: Lord, I am not sure what is happening here, but I trust in You above all else. You are the one certainty in the midst of everything else. So I place my needs before You, knowing You will not abandon me.

How to believe, trust, and hope in the midst of adversity? We have to go by faith and not by feelings.

The woman had been sick for many years. Nothing had healed her so far. She could have easily given up hope of ever being healed. She had no answers but she went to the One who did have the answer, or who was the answer.

She did the crucial thing which we all must do – she went outside of herself.

When we doubt, fear or despair we are staying locked up inside ourselves, just churning up the same old ground and getting nowhere. We feel our own inadequacy and deduce from that that there is no solution. We are simply defeated.

But take a look outside of self and see the Saviour of the whole world standing before us, and we get a very different story.
I may be inadequate but He is not. I may not have the answers but He has.
I don’t have to know how He will help; I just know that He will. So I go to touch the hem of His garment. I reach out to Him and He will heal me.

Sometimes the solution will take longer and be more complex than for the woman. Some of our problems have many levels (eg an unhappy marriage, rebellious children, state of the Church). No matter, He is bigger than all problems, and able to solve them all.

I am sure the only reason the world is in such a desolate state is that so few people take Our Lord at His word (Come to Me etc) and instead languish in despair and doubt, often even killing themselves.

It is like starving to death outside a restaurant. The solution is there, but do we take it?

Well we do, that is those of us here now. We will touch His garment, open our hearts to receive Him, and let His power flow into us... Who touched Me? We all did!