“HE TOUCHES YOU THAT YOU MAY TOUCH THE HEM”
Saint Matthew 9. 18-26
23rd Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 24 propers/Michaelmas skip)
3 November Anno Domini 2013
Fr. J. Bill Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
There’s only one ruler and it’s not the “certain ruler” who came to Christ. It is Christ Jesus Who is Ruler because it is Christ Who is God!
That is the scandal and stumbling block. Not that there is a God but that it is a Nazarene carpenter’s son who walked around Palestine two millennia ago. The off-putting thing to man’s unbelief, and rejecting enemy nature, is that this Jesus was neither powerful, nor successful. He was common and ordinary to look at, and He wound up arrested by the government, convicted of the high-crime of treason, and executed like a traitorous and dangerous criminal. Why, if you’d been around back then you would’ve wanted him taken to Gitmo, water-boarded, and rubbed out like a dangerous crazed Bin-laden revolutionary.
The eyes of man can never see the things of God. Only the Holy Spirit can create and sustain faith in a disciple’s heart. Such was a disciple who happened to be a ruler, Jairus by name, who came and worshiped Jesus as the Messiah of God. Jairus knew that the hand of God, the hand of Jesus, would bring his dead daughter back to life.
Pagans, and sinful confessional “Lutherans” for that matter, can avoid and obfuscate and pretend that Jesus isn’t always there…for a while—until death! Death is not only the great equalizer, but also the unavoidable ‘elephant in the corner of the room.’
To be sure, sickness and death don’t always get the attention of unbelievers so as to kindle in them belief in the Lord of Holy Scripture. In fact as Paul notes, the heathen grieve in their own pitiful and meaningless ways which is tragic beyond words. Jairus felt a pain that no one should ever have to endure—the death of his child. He grieved and wept, and…had faith in Christ. He clung to Jesus as his only hope. Jesus and the “12” followed Jairus. The man who clings to Jesus will always have Jesus following him. You, like Jairus, are now temples of the Holy Ghost. Where you go, your vessel contains God the 3rd person who continually gives you the Word of God, Jesus, in His words and presence. You weren’t baptized, you ARE + baptized!
What does it mean to “live,” and what does it mean to be “healed.” Temporarily speaking, in the “here & now” we understand life and good health. But because of aging, chronic sickness, and death, we all look for something deeper, greater, lasting and transcendent. Both pagans and believers yearn for an after-life. The only answer comes from Christ the Word; thus the Apostle:
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” [1 Cor.15. 12-23]
When fathers and mothers continue to lose their young daughters, and young sons, these words will not “feel” like enough—they will not wipe the tears or mend the shredded heart—not instantly. But these words are all that The Lord has given us. In these Words He gives us The Word made Flesh. In these words, and other Holy Words, He gives us a + re-birth that conquers the second death and He gives us an imperishable, resurrected, glorified, and divinized Body to eat, and precious eternal immortal Blood to drink. It is enough because it IS Jesus the God/Man Himself!
The Lord went to Jairus’ house as He comes to you in your + house, your homes, your House of Word & Sacrament, and will be in your temporary wooden box house, 6 feet down, until He ushers you into His house, your new Heavenly Mansion.
The man-centered contemporary worship of the noise-makers and minstrels gave way to the mellifluous and creative Word of Christ: talitha cumi. The girl who was dead was alive again IN CHRIST!
This will not happen in like manner when you burry your children, spouses, brethren, parents and loved ones. But what will happen is that with Jairus-like faith, with faith like the woman with the 12-year flow of blood, you will reach out and touch the hem of Christ’s robe; you will touch and receive Baptism, Absolution, Scripture and Supper. And you will believe and be given peace knowing that Jairus’ daughter (who ended up dying again at a later date) and you; and your believing brethren, will all awake to see the same shining, piercing, loving eyes looking down at you. Jesus will take you by the hand and your will arise—forever!
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost