“Where does our faith fall on the “totem pole” of our lives?”
Does the Worship of the almighty rank supreme in our daily schedules? Or is it something that is only done when it is convenient for us to do so?
When we have a particularly bad day, is the creator of heaven and earth the first one that we turn to for refuge? Or is he an after-thought until things seem to settle down?
How did we prepare to come to the Divine Liturgy this morning? Was our first thought on the incredible miracle of God Himself coming and physically intertwining with our very being through the Holy Eucharist? Or were we more concerned and excited about what we have planned for after the Divine Liturgy?
Where does all our faith rank in importance for our every day lives?
As devout Christians…we all know what the answer to these questions SHOULD be…yet it is so easy for us be forget about the Divine Life, and to focus on our lives in the world. We saw this illustrated for us in the Gospel last week when our Lord came and healed Legion, who was possessed by so many demons, which destroyed his life. This poor man was dominated by darkness and evil, until Christ came and put him in his right mind. But what was the response to this miracle? The people of the Gadarenes were too focused on what happened to the pigs…than the restoration of man. Rather than praising Christ for sending the devil packing, or giving thanks for this incredible miracle…they drove Him away. The people wanted Christ out of their lives!
Contrast that with the scenes from today’s Gospel, when Christ returned to Galilee. As soon as He arrived, we hear how the people RUN to Him. They surrounded Him, and were elated that He had returned. And in the midst of the crowd, we hear about the simple faith of one woman who had decided in that very moment, that nothing was more important in this life than getting to Christ. As a result of that simple orientation, her life was changed forever.
One of the truly wonderful things about Holy Orthodoxy, is that we have been handed down throughout the centuries…a more complete picture of the Bible. Holy Tradition is that which turns scripture from black and white letters on parchment, into color, depth, and reality…and the story that we hear this morning is no different. The woman with the issue of blood is not a nameless person whose story ended after these verses. Her name was St. Veronica, and for the same amount of time that Jairus’s daughter (who we also hear about this morning) had been alive, Veronica had been suffering from non-stop bleeding for 12 whole years.
This was no small trickle of blood. Today, we have modern ways of dealing with these types of diseases, but back in the time of Christ, to have this burden placed on your shoulders was the ultimate humiliation. Veronica had to change and wash her clothes constantly. Everything that she wore became ruined, and because of the way the Jewish laws were at the time, she couldn’t be caught out in public with blood on her clothes without being punished.
In a very real way…as soon as she contracted this disease…Veronica’s life was over. The hemorrhaging consumed and destroyed her in ways we could not possibly imagine in the modern world. All of her money, her reputation, and her livelihood was spent on physicians, who had tried to give her back her life…and had failed.
When our Lord came back to Galilee, Veronica made the decision that at all costs…she needed to get to Christ. She ignoredthe world that day. She wasn’t distracted by the noise of the crowd or it’s size. She didn’t care if she broke any mosaic law about being ritually pure. She didn’t pay any mind to her suffering, or her lack of assets, or the way that she was dressed....her mind was one thing: “Simply touch the garment of Christ, and I will be healed.”
Simple and pure faith…with Christ at the center. This is what changed Veronica’s life…and it is the same reorientation that we all need to take to heart, each and every day.
We talked a lot last week about demons, and when it comes to simple faith, this is one of the areas that they attack the hardest. How many times have we been hit over the base of our skull with doubts about God, doubts about eternal life, doubts about our own sufferings, doubts about our unique role as human beings?
Imagine if St. Veronica had doubt all of those years ago…saying to herself: ”I can’t be seen in public with the way I look! Besides, how can touching a man’s garment change my life forever?” She would have found herself in the same position as so many of us find ourselves this morning…untransformed and unaltered because of the emphasis we place on the rational thoughts of the world.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, somehow, someway, we have to overcome the world, and live our lives in complete obedience to our Lord. Our life in the Church needs to be at forefront of everything that we do. The lessons that you take from Holy Scripture, from the Divine Liturgy, and from the fathers, needs to be the lens with which we view what is going on in the world. The voice of the Saints, who have experienced clarity should be our conscience, as we deal with all of the curveballs that life throws at us. This is the only way we can allow our lives to be transformed, just as St. Veronica’s was all of those years ago.
May we all lead a life where our number one priority echoes that of this great saint, and rejoice with the angels at this incredible existence that can be found at the feet of our Creator…Amen!