Der Vasken's Sermon on September 8, 2019

Sep 10, 2019

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

"I thank my God and I praise Him.  My family survived."

I heard this quote last week as a woman, surrounded by her children, stood outside of what remained of her home in some neighborhood on the Bahaman Islands.  Her home was destroyed by the hurricane far beyond repair.  And yet this woman stood in front of news reporters and instead of complaining, she praised her God as she embraced her family.  

It was a terrifying week in the Caribbean and Florida coast last week. Viewing the massive damage from the comfort of our living rooms, somehow made it all seem unreal, but it happened.  People died.  Homes were destroyed.  Neighborhoods washed away.  About ten days earlier, while on a family vacation to the Bahamas, I remembered complaining to myself about the inconvenience of the rain we encountered on and off throughout our vacation.  A little inconvenient rain and I complained.  And this lady lost her whole house and instead of complaining, she found reason to praise her God.

Today's Gospel lesson speaks about a lesser-known miracle.  In this reading, Jesus makes contact with a world that is unknown to most of us--the silent world of the deaf.  On this one particular day, He and His disciples had grown tired from a day filled with preaching to endless crowds of people all seeking cures for their ailments.  But for some reason, this Gospel tells us not about the crowds of people gathered that day, but about a single person within the crowd who came seeking His healing touch.  [Mk. 7:31-37]  It says "...and they brought to Him a man who was deaf and unable to speak, and they asked Him to lay His hand upon him." And the Bible says that Jesus took the man and his friends aside. He prayed for him and He touched him "and his ears were opened; his tongue was free; and he spoke plainly for the first time in his life.  And He commanded them not to tell anyone but the more He did so, the more they spread the news."   And they were all overwhelmed with amazement saying "...He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

Let's think about it for a moment.  Why did St. Mark include this event in his Gospel?  Did Jesus come only to restore physical vision or mend hearing problems or enable people to speak again?  Or is it deeper than that?  Are these the healings that we all somehow need?

  • Can we, who see with our eyes, still somehow be blind?
  • Can we, who speak with our lips, still fail to communicate what counts?
  • Can we, who hear with our ears, still be deaf in some important ways?
There is a reason this story was recorded in the Bible--to make sure we make the most of the gifts God has given us and remind ourselves to speak about our faith.  This story was recorded in the Bible to remind us that sharing our faith with others is to give glory to God. Think about that innocent mother in the Bahamas.  She lost every material thing she ever owned.  Yet, she used her words to thank God that her children all made it.

We now that faith in Christ can heal not only the physical ailments of life, but also He can heal our emotional and spiritual ones as well.  That has been a truth handed down within our homes for generations.  We know that faith in Christ can comfort the sad or grieving.  We know that He can be present to the person who is lonely. We know that He loves even the person, who doesn't know how to love himself.  We know these things and we have believed them through the generations.

Our faith enables us to overcome the difficulties of life.

  • It is our faith that enables us to carry on when we feel like giving up and to pray when we are at a loss for words;
  • It is our faith that enables us to love even though our heart has been broken time and again;
  • It is our faith that enables us to sit calmly when we feel like throwing up our hands in frustration and to take the next step when we feel like throwing in the towel--to be understanding when nothing seems to make sense and to listen when we would rather not hear.
That is our faith acting within us.

We are called to share how God has touched our lives and we are called to share how His touch can better our lives.  

  • Jesus touched people, verbally and physically, regardless of who they were or from where they came.
  • He touched people, young and old, rich and poor, known and unknown, saint and sinner.
  • He touched a homemaker, an outcast, the most ill, a traitor and a blind beggar.
  • He touched a rich man and a sick woman.
  • He touched a powerful king and a poor widow.
  • He even touched a man, who doubted Him and an enemy, who hated Him.
He cares equally for everybody.  No person is beyond the loving and healing "touch" of Jesus Christ.  And He seeks to touch our lives today.  So let us leave here asking ourselves:
  • Where do I need God's Touch in my life today?
  • And who in my family could benefit from that touch?  And then let your faith take over.
May God give us all the desire to share His Touch with others so others may benefit.  

"I thank my God and I praise Him.  My family survived."

Amen.