Der Vasken’s Sermon on September 10, 2023

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

Today’s Gospel reading picks up from where we left off last Sunday and continues in the same region of Galilee. It is a very special passage about a very special touch. We touch things every day but then from time to time, I’m sure you will agree with me, we touch things that are different and they touch us in a different way.

I remember the first time I touched my daughter’s hand the day she was born and wondered how can this be. I remember the day I touched the ground in Historic Armenia for the first time and felt my roots grab hold of me. I remember the time I touched the Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem and understood Easter differently from that moment on. We all have memories like these.

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus makes contact with the world of the deaf, but for some reason, this Gospel focuses in on 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.” 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.”

Let’s put ourselves in this deaf man’s position. We are deaf and cannot hear anything. We see the world around us and people interacting and conversing but we are not able to do any of that. Think of the darkness and fear the man in today’s story must have lived in. Now imagine the crowd coming and forcibly taking him to Jesus. This deaf man does not know who Jesus is and no one can explain to him who Jesus is because remember sign language would not be invented for another 1,900 years.

So now this man is brought in front of Jesus and then Jesus touches him. What could be going through this man’s mind? What would be going through our minds? Jesus knew that this man needed a personal connection and he needed personal contact and He gave it to him by taking him away from the crowd and making the deaf man His entire focus. God does this with each of us.

We know that the Touch of God can heal not only the physical ailments of life but He can heal our emotional and spiritual ones as well. We know that the Touch of God can comfort those who grieve. We know that the Touch of God will give hope to the person who feels lost and that the Touch of God heals in ways that nothing else can. Our families have believed in these truths over the generations.

• The Touch of God helps us overcome challenges.
• It is the Touch of God that enables us to carry on when we feel like giving up.
• It’s the Touch of God that enables us to trust even when it makes more sense to doubt.
• It is the Touch of God that enables us to remain calm when we feel like running away and to listen even tough what we are listening to frightens us.

That is the Touch of God acting within us. Jesus “touched” people with His Words and with His Hands. He “touched” people young and old, rich and poor, saint and sinner. He “touched” a homemaker, an outcast, the ill, a traitor and a blind beggar. He “touched” a rich man and sick woman. He “touched” a powerful king and a poor widow. He even “touched” a man who couldn’t hear Him or speak with Him. No person is beyond the loving and healing Touch of God and He seeks to Touch our lives every day.

So let’s leave here asking ourselves

• Where do you need God’s Touch in your life today?
• Who could you pray for that could use His Healing Touch?

May the Hand of God be upon all those whose lives are in need of His Touch.


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