Reflection for Monday 4th July 2022

The Rev’d Penny Body

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Reflection 4th July 2022
Gospel – Matthew 9.18-26
18 While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue* came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ 19And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. 20Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ 22Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. 23When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, 24he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. 25But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26And the report of this spread throughout that district.

So today we have two stories of powerlessness, humility, faith and reliance on Jesus.
The leader of the synagogue has been faced with the most awful thing that can befall a parent – the death of his daughter. He is presumably a man of some social standing, some power in the community, and probably quite wealthy. But none of these things can help him to bring back his daughter from the dead.
Death is probably the ultimate event that we humans can feel powerless in the face of. But there are other examples – perhaps a sudden realisation of an unsustainable debt, perhaps a relationship breakdown, or perhaps we feel powerless in the face of the war in Ukraine and the injustices we see in the world. For different people in different circumstances, any of these things can make us realise that no matter what resources we think we have – we can be powerless to change our situation – or someone else’s – in our own strength.
So then comes humility. Here, the synagogue leader and loving father came and knelt before Jesus – something which for him – in his circumstances – must have been quite a difficult thing to do. But he had faith in Jesus’s ability to heal his daughter and bring her back to life and knew that he couldn’t do that on his own, and so he took action by going to Jesus in faith and humility.
The woman suffering from haemorrhages needed no lessons in humility. The nature of her illness meant that she would have been seen – according to the culture of the day – and the culture in some societies still today – as unclean, and would like have been prevented from approaching Jesus directly.
She too was powerless, and in her humility, and her faith, she knew that if she could only touch the hem of Jesus’s cloak – she would be healed. And so she was as Jesus turned and said to her – “your faith has made you well”.
Sometimes something brings us to a point of humility when we realise we are powerless, and sometimes we know we are powerless in our own selves already. Without Jesus, this could leave us in a truly terrible place – a place without hope and without a way forward. And my prayer then is that we may be led to any and all who are feeling this way so that we can – somehow – be part of holding the light in the darkness – and the hope in despair.
And we say thank God for Jesus. Thank God for faith. Thank God that we are never truly powerless – even in the face of death – when by paradoxically admitting our own powerlessness – in humility we can throw ourselves on the mercy of Jesus and live in the power of his healing Holy Spirit. Amen

The Collect for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity
God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.