The Rev'd Carlos de la Torre
Christ Church, New Haven, Conn.
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
July 22, 2018
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We have been traveling with Jesus throughout Saint Mark’s Gospel. We have witnessed his baptism in the Jordan River, we have witnessed him healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead, and we have even witnessed his rejection in his hometown of Nazareth.
Jesus has been on a mission, and the word has gotten out. So much so, that we’re told that “people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.”
People have come out from the shadows and hidden places, all seeking to be close to Jesus. All seeking to be in his presence and touch him, even if just the fringe of his cloak. And as the crowds move towards him, Jesus does not retreat or run away. Jesus does not ask those who approach him any questions. He does not critique or inquire about their past. He does not preach or teach, nor are there dialogues or parables. Jesus simply heals them without question, without requiring anything of them.
Simply put, Jesus shows them complete and utter mercy.
And God’s mercy is one of a kind. See, God’s mercy does not only make the unimaginable happen, but creates a new set of possibilities never imagined before. It challenges and expands our minds to believe that God can act beyond our human understanding. That God can act through the greatest ailment and hurdles. That God can act even through death itself.
All of the great healing miracles of Jesus — the healing of the sick, the casting out of demons, and the raising of the dead — are meant to prepare and point us to God’s ultimate miracle, the ultimate unimaginable possibility — the Resurrection of Jesus.
The mercy of God transcends our human inclinations and invites us to embrace God’s grace, God’s love, not as things we earn but as free gifts. God’s mercy, God’s grace, God’s love, cannot be bought or sold. They do not have a place in the market, it is simply given to us.
The act of self-giving and self-emptying is part of God’s very nature. And we come to see and understand God’s desire to give away his love, mercy, and grace through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Father Frederick William Faber poetically captures God’s divine mercy in his hymn text, as he writes:
“There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There's a kindness in God's justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven.”
The mercy of God offers us a way forward, it offers us life. It allows us not only to conquer that which consumes us, but let’s us hope and reassures us that God will not abandon us.
If just by touching the cloak of Jesus many were healed, imagine what can happen to us who day after day, week after week, touch Jesus in the Holy sacrifice of the mass? Imagine what can happen to us who touch Jesus at the Soup Kitchen and in the streets of New Haven? Imagine what can happen to us if we seek and touch Jesus in our own loving and even broken relationships?
What can happen, what will happen, is God’s mercy will pour out to show what lies ahead. Thanks be to God who seeks not to abandon but to save. Thanks be to God who seeks to bring life in the face of death. Thanks be to God who is constantly giving and emptying himself for the life of the world.
Thanks be to God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
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