The Prelate’s Sermon, November 7, 2021
Today on the ninth Sunday of the Feast of the Holy Cross, our Scriptural reading is from the Gospel of St. Luke 8:49-56. One day, as our Lord Jesus Christ was teaching, a leader of the local synagogue whose name is Jairus, beseeches Him to come to his house, and to heal his only daughter. On His way to the home of Jairus, our Lord’s journey is interrupted as He heals a woman who has been suffering from a blood disorder for twelve, painful years. Just then, the sad news arrives from Jairus’ house that the daughter has passed away. Our Lord reassures the miserable father by saying, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” Arriving at Jairus’ home, Jesus comforts those who were weeping and wailing, telling them that “the girl is not dead, but sleeping”, and entering the girl’s room with His three disciples and the parents, Jesus takes hold of the hand of the girl and says, “Talitha, cumi!” which means, “Young girl, rise to me!” The evangelist narrates how the girl’s spirit returned to her, and that she gets up at once. Jesus then directs the parents to give her something to eat.
This passage, as much as it is fascinating, is full of details which enrich our faith, and brings us closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, I would like to share the following thoughts.
- The statement of our Lord upon hearing the sad news that the girl is dead, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved,” sounds awkward, especially when facing an undeniable fact of hopeless loss. Nevertheless, this approach is true for those who have partial sight, or understanding of a fact, while the one who has a complete knowledge of the same fact surely behaves totally in a different way. Not only in thespհere of religion, but in our daily life in general, be it a child, a student, an employee, a patient, etc., when we confront a serious problem, we are often perplexed, and somehow, fear takes hold of us. On the other hand, parents, teachers, employers, physicians, etc., who have a comprehensive knowledge, might approach the situation from a different perspective. Hence,when Jesus solemnly said, “Do not fear. Only believe and she will be saved,” He was neither ignoring nor ridiculing the gravity of the situation, but was trying to open their eyes to see beyond their capabilities and to share the power of Divine mercy.
- Again, addressing the weeping and wailing crowd, when Jesus said that the girl is not dead but sleeping, He verified the same truth, that what seems to human beings as “the end” is within the larger picture of our eternal journey known only to the Creatoractually atransformative stage. We know that while we sleep, our subconscious mind functions without interruption with incredible speed through our dreams; likewise, when the body dies—“sleeps” —no matter for how long, the spirit which constitutes the essential part of our existence, continues its activity independent from the body.
- In most instances, Jesus Christ performed miracles after being asked, but in this episode, He holds the hand of the girl, and then gives her the life-giving order to rise. The human touch is incredibly powerful. When a mother holds the hand of her sleeping child and affectionately calls to wake up, besides the calling, her touch creates oneness and transmits a mystic energy. Likewise, by the gesture of holding the hand of the child, Jesus expresses the Divine tender love toward even what we regard as a corpse which is the tabernacle of our soul.
- Addressing a dead person as if is alive and saying ‘child’, indeed is phenomenal. This gives us the warmest feeling and assurance that whether we are alive or “dead”, we are God’s beloved children, because whoever sleeps in Christ is alive, and is in God’s eternal care (1 Thess. 4:14).
- “Get up.” Only the Source of Life, with full assurance, can utter this kind of irresistible order, reversing the direction of our soul’s journey. This brings us to admit the unchallengeable reality that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Creation and the Creator of our lives as well.
The message of this passage is not only to read about a wonderful miracle which did happen in the past, but also as the children of God to realize how Jesus Christ, stretching His hands on the Cross, saved us from the true death of sin. By committing His soul into the hands of the Father, He also entrusted us all into our heavenly Father’s care, and at His next coming, Jesus will give a wake-up call to all those who are sleeping in faith, to celebrate Eternal Life in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and to praise the All-Holy Trinity. Amen.