Der Vasken’s Sermon on August 6, 2023

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

He peaked their curiosity first by what He said and then by what He did. They came to see Him and they came in large numbers and they filled the house He was visiting just to be in His presence. Some may have come seeking a cure for an illness. Some may have come out of curiosity. Some may have come to catch a glimpse of Him and when they came, He taught them and helped them.

Today’s Gospel reading is a familiar and moving one, which many of us have heard before. This Bible passage speaks of God’s mercy and compassion. It is the story of four friends who lower their disabled friend through the roof of a house that Jesus was visiting that day. Word got out that He is there and before long, the crowd grew so large that it overflowed outside the house leaving no room for anyone to enter through the main door.

The paralytic’s friends noticing this decide to climb up on the roof and tear open a hole large enough to lower their disabled friend in and land him at the feet of Jesus. Now Christ, seeing the great faith that these four men have, heals the disabled man and he is able to stand up for the first time in his life and walk home as Jesus instructed him. All those present are amazed and shout out in disbelief because such a thing had never happened before.

This Bible story is offered to the people of a town He knew very well. It takes place among a large gathering of people and precedes a whole series of other healings and miracles where He feeds the needs of thousands of people; raises a little girl from the dead; heals the blindness of two men; heals the speech of a man who was mute. Then He heals a disabled man, who came seeing His touch and His message.

Each of these miracles relates to a healing either physically or spiritually. So I invite this morning to consider if Jesus crossed your path, what would you ask Him to heal. Would you ask Him for a healing for yourself or for someone you love? Would you ask Him for a healing for your country or for the global community? Would your request be for a physical healing or for the healing of a relationship or perhaps a spiritual one?

Jesus went about many cities and villages teaching in their houses and temples and sharing the Good News of the Kingdom of God and curing every disease and every sickness. The crowds knew that what He was doing can only be possible through the blessings of God.

Today’s Gospel story makes the claim that God’s mercy and compassion are real in this world but it’s through our hands and our hearts that they are carried into the world. If we want to see mercy and compassion in this less than merciful and compassionate world, then we have to make it happen. This is what the four friends realized with their disabled friend. In this world of violence, tragedy, hunger, persecution and uncertainty, we are called to show God’s mercy and compassion to others.

Let’s make mercy and compassion a bigger reality in this world by doing our part and let’s do it now—not next year or next month or next week but now. So, on this warm summer Sunday, let’s leave here with this miracle and story on our mind and ask ourselves:

• Where in the life of a loved one is a healing needed and how can I help?
• If I were among the crowd that gathered around Jesus on that day in that house, where would I be standing—up front near Jesus, all the way in the back or somewhere in between?
• What would it take for me to get closer to Him?

Something for all of us to think about. Where in the life of a loved one is a healing needed or how can you help?


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