daily biblical sermons

No problem is too great for Jesus to solve, not even the problem that we are now facing in the United States today
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, 14th Week of the Year, July 06, 2020
Hosea 2:16, 17b-18, 21-22, Psalm 144, Matthew 9:18-26


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“While he [Jesus] was thus speaking to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment; for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players, and the crowd making a tumult, he said, ‘Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district” (Matthew 9:18-26).



Today’s gospel presents us with two hopeless cases. First of all the ruler of the local synagogue comes to Jesus and prostrates himself before him in an act of worship and begs him to raise up his daughter who has just died. While Jesus is on the way with the synagogue ruler to raise her up, a woman who has had a flow of blood for twelve years comes up behind him in the crowd and touches the tassel of his garment, saying to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well” (Matthew 9:21).



In both of these cases, the situation is hopeless. The poor man’s little twelve-year-old daughter has just died, and this woman is uncomfortable and debilitated by this constant loss of blood, and according to Jewish belief her situation rendered her ritually unclean (Leviticus 15:25), and anyone whom she would touch or who touched her or touched or sat on anything she sat or laid on would also be rendered ritually unclean (Leviticus 15:19-30), so people dreaded a person like this, because they did not want to become unclean by touching her.



You can imagine what kind of a life she must have had these past twelve years, a life of exclusion from society and constant social distancing. If she came too close to anyone, she risked being angrily thrust away and rejected by them for fear of being made unclean by contact with her. She must have had very little energy, because she was constantly losing blood. And even to approach Jesus in the large crowd that surrounded him to ask him to cure her was an embarrassment to her, for she did not want to reveal her personal embarrassing condition (a menstrual disorder) in front of all these people.



So how could she even ask Jesus to cure her without subjecting herself to great embarrassment and potential rejection by the crowd? Her solution was to come up surreptitiously from behind Jesus, without him or anyone in the crowd knowing what she was doing, and simply touch the tassel on his garment, and she believed that that would cure her.



And so it happened, but not before Jesus knew that power to heal had gone out from him and asked who touched him, and then she had to reveal her embarrassing condition to all these people. So she “came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease’” (Mark 5:33-34).



When Jesus finally arrived at the ruler of the synagogue’s house, his daughter was clearly dead and the funeral directors, mourners, flute players, and wailing women were all performing their duties for the deceased child. But Jesus dismissed them all and walked into the girl’s room only with her parents and three disciples, and simply “took her by the hand, and the girl arose” (Matthew 9:25).



What does all this mean for us today? We also face many difficult situations and seemingly hopeless cases, where we cannot figure out how to solve the problems that we are in. Today in the United States of America we are experiencing a tremendous upheaval that seems impossible to solve. This is a problem that all us who are alive today inherited from our ancestors who lived long before we or our parents or our grandparents were born. We simply inherited it. It is the problem of slavery that was abolished in this country on December 18, 1865, but was followed by segregation in the southern states, which was ended by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This situation has caused great suffering to the descendants of the enslaved people.



The solution to this problem is to follow Christian values and morality and work peacefully to create a just society with equal opportunities for all who qualify for a particular job. The solution is not to destroy the United States of America. It is not to defile and pull down the statues and memorials of our founding fathers, like George Washington our first president, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Ulysses Grant, as is being done today. The solution is not to try to destroy law and order. It is not to try to put this country into a state of chaos and anarchy. It is not to destroy the property of innocent people. It is not to burn down and loot the small businesses of hard-working Americans, both black and white.



The burning of our cities, rioting, and looting, is the work of anarchists, not the work of Christian people, and it will not solve the problem of the poor, but will only increase it and make our cities unsafe. The solution is not to try to vilify our founding fathers and national heroes, because they were not perfect human beings. Who is a perfect human being? No one, neither you nor I nor anyone else! Perfect human beings do not exist (except for Jesus and his mother). Pulling down the statues of our founding fathers will not solve this problem.



Clear police brutality must be punished by the law, and laws must be passed so that police brutality does not continue in this country. But then instead of burning down our cities and trying to destroy our country, we must rather turn to God and to Christ for healing of the wounds of slavery that we as a nation have inherited from the deeds of our ancestors. We must pray for the forgiveness of those of our ancestors of long ago who inflicted these wounds. Christ gives us this forgiveness. But then he commands that we also must forgive those who have wounded us. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).



This is the only solution possible. Always wanting to be a victim and wanting the government to solve our problems for us, while we do nothing ourselves to solve them is not the solution to the present crisis in the United States of America. If you find that since you didn’t bother to study in school or apply yourself to learn a useful skill you now are not qualified to be a lawyer or some other respected professional or have a good job, and instead of trying to do something positive to better your condition you simply blame the country and set out to do everything you can to destroy it by burning its symbols, condemning its legacy and heritage, vilifying its heroes, defacing its monuments, and burning its flag, you are only increasing the problem.



Once you forgive others who have harmed your ancestors, then you must work very hard and study much to get a good education or develop a useful skill to advance yourself through the normal channels of society, applying for a job that you are qualified for by your education or skill. If you work hard at this with honesty, diligence, and integrity, you will rise from your poverty, serve the Lord, and help your fellow human beings.



There is surely no other country in the world that more enables oppressed people – if they work very hard – to succeed than the United States of America. Christ can heal our hearts as he raised a twelve-year-old girl from the dead and as he cured a woman of an embarrassing, uncomfortable, and debilitating hemorrhage that she had spent all she had for twelve years paying doctors to cure without getting better, but only getting worse. She lived a life of exclusion that made normal social contact with people extremely difficult if not impossible. But she turned to Jesus in faith and he cured her.



Not that Jesus will cure every physical illness and raise up every dead person. These were extraordinary miracles that Jesus performed in order to arouse faith in him. His disciples also had these powers in order to get the Church started and to give evidence that Jesus and his disciples had divine power and were sent by God with a saving message. People could see these physical miracles, and with this evidence they could put their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. These miracles became rare after the first generation of Christians died out, that is, after the faith was fully established.



But Jesus’ miracle of transforming our hearts by forgiving our sins, restoring us to his friendship, and enabling God to reckon to us his own righteousness so that we might now shine with the righteousness of God himself and have heavenly peace in our hearts – this miracle continues in the world for all that put their trusting faith in Jesus Christ. With Christ’s salvation and our own response to it by a life of hard work in the service of the Lord and of our fellow human beings, making good use of the gifts that the Lord has given us for this purpose, we can overcome many of our political and social problems. But this requires that in response to being justified by faith in Christ, because of his atoning death on the cross, which made full reparation for our sins before God, we then do our part by living as Christians according to Christian morality and principles and offer our lives in loving service to God and our neighbor.


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