Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Seventh Sunday of Luke
And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at Jesus’ feet he besought Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As He went, the people pressed round Him. And a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed by any one, came up behind Him, and touched the fringe of His garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the multitudes surround you and press upon you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched Me; for I perceive that power has gone forth from Me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before Him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” While He was still speaking, a man from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.” And when He came to the house, He permitted no one to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and bewailing her; but He said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand He called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and He directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but He charged them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8: 41-56 (7th Sunday of Luke)
In today’s Gospel lesson, we meet two people who are in “dire straits”, two situations that seem to be hopeless. First we meet a ruler of the synagogue named Jairus. From what we know about the leaders of the synagogue, most of them were quite proud and arrogant, and they weren’t fans of Jesus. So, for one of them to come and fall at the feet of Jesus, begging Jesus to come to his house, this was a pretty desperate measure.
As Jesus was going to the home of Jairus, a woman who had been sick for twelve years and could not be healed came up to Jesus and touches the fringe of His garment and was healed. For twelve years, she was sick and could not be healed by anyone. But she believe that He could heal her. She was too embarrassed perhaps or felt too insignificant to ask Jesus to stop in the middle of the multitude to minister to her. Maybe she felt the crowd would push her away, after all who was she? She had faith that just touching His garment was sufficient, and it was.
As Jesus was making His way through the crowd, people came from Jairus’ home to tell him that his daughter had died. Unless you have lost a child, you can’t imagine how crushed he must have been by the news. When Jesus insisted on going the house, even saying that with a little faith, she would live again, the man (again, remember a proud and powerful ruler) did not tell Jesus “hey, forget it,” or “why didn’t you hurry to the house and she wouldn’t have died.” Rather, he allowed Jesus to come into his house, and to witness with him and his wife, the sadness of their now deceased daughter. When Jesus told people not to weep and they laughed at Him, Jairus didn’t join them. He clung to his belief that Jesus could do SOMETHING for him. Jesus made a miracle and raised her from the dead.
What is the message of today’s Gospel? The message I take away is not to give up, even when things don’t look so good. A woman was sick for TWELVE YEARS!!! And yet she still believed that God has some grace and mercy for her. A man lost his only daughter and yet he still believed that God had some grace and mercy for him and his daughter. Neither knew exactly what would come from their encounter with Jesus, yet they eagerly ran to Him.
No matter what our life situation, Jesus has some grace and mercy for us. There may be situations that can’t be fixed. Maybe you’ve had a child die, or have lost a job or a marriage, or are sick beyond the point of being healed. In any of these situation, God’s power can still strengthen you. In any of these situations, good can still come. And despite any of these situations, or others, befalling you, salvation can still be on the table for all of us. Spiritual healing is always available through Christ, even when physical healing is not. And eternal life is possible for anyone, even when earthly life has been filled with disappointment.
The lesson of today’s Gospel is don’t give up on God, salvation or life, even when things look bleak. Keep on going, that’s all God expects. Two people in the Gospel “kept on going” and they weren’t disappointed. Keep on going and eventually you will be rewarded. And in the meantime, He will strengthen and help you.
Lord, although the tomb had been sealed by the transgressors of the law, You came forth from the sepulcher, just as You were born from the Theotokos. Your bodiless Angels did not know how You became incarnate; nor did the soldiers who guarded You perceive when You resurrected. For both have been sealed to those who would inquire, but the miracles have been revealed to those who faithfully worship the mystery. As we extol it, restore to us exultant joy and Your great mercy. (First Resurrectional Praise, Plagal 1st Tone, Trans. By Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Don’t give up, keep on going!
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The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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