在那個眾人推擠的喧鬧場合中，卻只有一個人是「真的」觸碰到耶穌，就是那個血漏的婦人。我們一定都要記得這件事，當我們今日領受聖餐時，耶穌到底會說：「你領受了我」？還是會說：「我不認識你」？而彼得和耶穌的對話在神學上也非常重要，他不假思索地對耶穌說：「夫子，眾人擁擁擠擠緊靠著你。（有古卷在此有：你還問摸我的是誰嗎？）」彼得非常熱心，但總是不夠深思熟慮。耶穌說：「總有人摸我，因我覺得有能力從我身上出去。」那個能力(power)是什麼？那就是神的非受造能量(the uncreated energy)。西方天主教會並不認同這樣的觀點，他們不認為有所謂神的非受造能量，他們認為那只是某種發生(start)、分解(dissolve)、然後就消失(disappear)的能力。然而，這能量就是神的恩典，是神的運行(act)，但並非是透過祂的本質。所以神的能量進到這婦人之內。神進入了這個婦人，並醫治了她。
所以這個婦人向前來戰戰兢兢的來俯伏在耶穌腳前，向耶穌說明摸祂的緣故，當著眾人面前都說出來。而耶穌對她說：「女兒，你的信救了你；平平安安地去吧」，這是很重要的觀點。當我們在這世上遇見困難，當我們在內心中看不到出路，找不到解決的辦法，神正在對我們說：「不要怕」。神也正對我這麼說，因為我為了你們，懷著如此多的懼怕，經歷這麼多的困難，僅僅為了使教會合一。從許多學者的觀點，像是Rudolf Otto提到的信仰，神是那令人戰兢的奧秘（mysterium tremendum）。但神令人戰兢並非因為祂使我們發抖和恐懼，並非如此。祂是愛與和平的奧秘。西方的宗教哲學家認為令人戰兢的奧秘（mysterium tremendum）會帶來榮耀與敬畏。但這不是東正教會的神，這裡的神是愛的奧秘。
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2014.11.09 Seventh Sunday of Luke
Relationship is Life—Two Miracles for Woman
St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 6:11-18 BRETHREN, see with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God. Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
Luke 8:41-56 At that time, there came to Jesus a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at Jesus’ feet he besought him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As he went, the people pressed round him. And a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years and had spent all her living upon physicians and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind him, and touched the fringe of his garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the multitudes surround you and press upon you!” But Jesus said, “Some one touched me; for I perceive that power has gone forth from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” While he was still speaking, a man from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.” And when he came to the house, he permitted no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and bewailing her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.
Fr. Jonah’s Sermon:
Today the Gospel is very important and very deep. Jesus Christ is in Jericho and then the ruler of the synagogue, who was a person with very high social status, had a twelve year old daughter (and again we should be careful about this number, twelve) who was very sick and it was very likely that she would die. So the poor father did something that had a social cost to him. He humiliated himself by going in front of Jesus Christ, bowing down to him and begging him. From this point of view it cost him, and of course his faith is not such a great faith, like the Roman officer. He said to Jesus, “My daughter is very sick. Please come and cure her,” and Jesus accepted his request.
It is interesting that the people around there followed Jesus to see the miracle. But we also see that when Jesus was going there and many people were pushing to see this strange thing, there was one woman among them who also was sick. And so we see that that disease, which is not something good and which came after the Fall, has some secret meaning. It shows to us first the separation we have from God and also from the others; it shows that we are really sick. And it calls for a total cure, which is not only a cure of the body to be totally well with God.
And this is why Jesus healing the disease in the Gospel has such a deep meaning: it means a total cure. It is not like in Western medicine, where if you have a fever then I give you a pill, the fever goes down and you are OK. It is not like this. The disease needs God to cure it totally, to bring the situation now to that of Paradise, where there was no disease. This is why we see that when Jesus Christ is doing a miracle is not some kind of magic. The difference with magic is that you do not care who is it who is doing something to you, but you care about the results. You do something, blah-blah-blah, you say something and then you get what you want. But the miracle is a social thing; it is a communion thing because it is God who enters to the reality of the human being. And this is why Jesus is acting in different ways for different miracles.
There are obvious diseases, like the daughter of the rabbi, who was in great danger and it was obvious she was going to die. But there are so many other diseases that are not so obvious, and many times they are very painful, as if the person dies many times before they die. And how many people have a big knife in their hearts. And Jesus knows this; He is there. This other woman for twelve years had a bleeding like women have, but this was not stopping at all, and this had terrible consequences for her. First of there was her health, of course. And she had spent almost all her money to go to all kinds of doctors but they were no help. This was in Israel, so it also caused her social and religious isolation because according to Jewish law she could not go to the Temple of Solomon with this condition, which made her unclean. And from this point of view, she was outside of the society of Israel, which was a very religious society. And she was not married, because who would marry a woman like this? So you see the big problem here.
Then secretly, so nobody knew, she was hiding there, right in the middle of the people. And when she accepts her disease and her reality, she becomes real only in front of Jesus Christ because she says, “I am not worthy to touch Him; I am nothing. And also it would be sinful to touch him since that would make him unclean. So secretly she touched his cloak. And she believed absolutely. She created a secret relationship with Jesus Christ, who did not know this. And at this point, when she wants to create this relationship with Jesus Christ by touching him, the miracle happens. She becomes well. But Jesus wants to make the miracle, to finish the miracle, to make the relationship real, and not a secret thing where the woman has stolen something that Jesus did not know.
What goal is this but another thing to give her to society, to give a proof in public that she is cured. Because otherwise she would need to be humiliated by going to the priests and proving that she no longer had the disease. So by asking [and calling attention to her] Jesus put her back in society. So, He said, “Who touched me?” And the woman was afraid, as if she did not dare to integrate her relationship with Jesus. So you can see that still there is a fear, which makes the love not perfect. Then Peter said, “Everybody is touching you.” You can imagine that with so many people pushing from here and there just from their curiosity to see something strange, how could He ask who had touched Him?
And when I hear this, so many times, I am so moved and I am so afraid for myself because I touch Jesus by [showing his hands together]. Not only this, but you also; you not only touched Jesus Christ, you took Jesus Christ inside you. And I am afraid that Jesus will say that I had just touched Him, and so many other priests all over the world, and so many Christians all over the world not only touch Him, but take him inside their body.
But in that place at that time there was only one person who really touched Jesus Christ: it was that woman. You know, we must all remember this that if we took the Holy Communion today, will Jesus say, “You took,” or “I don’t know you”? And it is theologically very important what Peter said, not thinking, “There are so many people are touching and pushing you, and you ask who touched you?” Peter was always very enthusiastic but very deep thought. But Jesus said, “I know somebody touched me because power was going from me.” What is this power? This is the uncreated energy of God. This is what the West [the Latin Church] refused and said that there is no uncreated energy of God, and it is only something that starts and then dissolves, disappears. And this is the grace of God. The grace of God is God acting, not by His essence. So the energy of God went to this woman. God went into this woman and cured her.
Is this enough? No, it is not enough. The fact that the world exists is also because of the uncreated energy of God. But Jesus wants something much deeper and much more real, and that is the personal relationship. This is the Holy Communion, which is the highest thing that we have in this life and in the other life.
So the woman now came forward trembling. And she said, “Yes, it was me. I was sick.” She said in public everything. It is interesting that Jesus says to her, “Don’t be afraid, daughter.” This is very important. God says to us that when there is a difficulty, when we see no way inside ourselves to solve some big problem, God is saying to us – and to me because I have many more fears and troubles for you just to keep the church together: “Don’t be afraid.” And from the point of view of those who study, Rudolf Otto wrote about religions, that God is mysterium tremendum. But God is not tremendum in that He creates trembling and fear; it’s not this. He is the mystery of the love and the peace. Western philosophers of religion say about the mysterium tremendum that along with this comes glory and fear. This is not the God of the Orthodox Church, where it is the mystery of love.
But after this something happens because there was still the girl who was very sick. When a miracle is going to happen, some big temptation has happened before. At this point, some servants came out from the house and said to the ruler, “Don’t bother the teacher any more; your daughter is dead.” You can imagine the people then, thinking it was now too late. But Jesus said to them, “She is not dead, she is sleeping.” The people did not believe and they were laughing at Him. And then they went out of more curiosity to see Jesus humiliated. They went to the house and then others came out crying, saying, “Now she is dead.”
This reminds us of when Jesus allowed Lazarus to die, and he did not go at once to save him. Again, this is very important because Jesus knew that the other people were there just for fun, just to see the strange thing, the magic. He says again, “Don’t be afraid. She is not dead; she is merely sleeping.” Now Jesus gives a new meaning to death. First of all, death is a social thing because when somebody dies in the Orthodox Church, it is not just a simple fact: all the relatives and friends come together. It is a social event.
But from the other point of view, when Jesus says, “She did not die, she just is sleeping,” there is a very big shift to philosophy. Why? Because the only sure thing that we know is and all of philosophy knows is what? That we are going to die. That is the only thing that we know one hundred percent. The other things like if you will be rich or not rich, successful or not successful: well we may wish, but we don’t know one hundred percent. And Plato says that philosophy is basically the study of death. And Heidigger said the human being is [unclear] existence moving to death. Finally the dialogue is a dialogue with death. We make death a reality, and all philosophy basically speaks about death. Jesus changed this. He said, “She is not dead; she’s sleeping.” So what do we now know 100%? It is the love of God, that God loves us so much that he does not allow us, although our body is dissolved, we are not dead. Philosophy should not be a study of death; it should be a study of love.
Now I have one class in the university about free will, where we study about different philosophers and their writings, and we have a wonderful teacher. But I asked why do philosophers all speak about sorrow and condemnation about free will and responsibility. But nobody speaks about love. From this point of view, you have a very interesting point.
So when Jesus said that, the others were laughing at him because they did not believe in Him. But Jesus went into the room, taking only three disciples, Peter, John and James, and the girl’s parents. And he said, “Daughter, come up.” And the girl got up, Jesus held her by the hand, and He gave her to her parents. And He took care of her because he told them to give her food to eat because she was weak.
For those who don’t believe, and especially Protestants and other people, the Bible says that Jesus told her to get up, he did not pray – he did it with his authority as the Son of God. But the Gospel says, “Her spirit came back.” So where was her spirit? There is something in human beings that we call spirit or pneuma or soul, which God does not allow to be dissolved, and this has consciousness. And this is alive and it obeyed Jesus Christ and came back to the daughter. And this is why today we prayed for our friends, our brothers, their grandfathers, they know, their souls are happy today. We did Liturgy for them, and as Saint Nicholas [name unclear] says, if they were good people they probably receive the Holy Communion in a way that God knows because they did not come to receive it from a spoon. But also because all the church prayed for them as a community, as the body of Jesus Christ, because we don’t know where they are.
And Jesus told them not to tell others what had happened because the miracle worked and created relationships between the daughter and her parents, but not with the others. So remember, nothing is impossible. God is working slowly. Many times we ask, “Where is God? Why does He allow me to suffer?” But He is, and He will come, and He knows the secret pain and the deep difficulties that all of us have. And when you receive the Holy Communion, you are like the woman who touched his robe, and we are even more than her. And when we create this relationship, our problems will be solved, because the real problem is to create this relationship; all th other things are nothing. Do you have any questions?
Q: Why did Jesus tell the parents not to tell anybody, because when she would go out, everyone would know what had happened?
A: This was because what was important for the people was not that the girl was now alive, but that Jesus might have done something like magic movements, like a-wa-wa-wa-wa. They cared for the magic. They did not care about Jesus. They did not care about creating this relationship, which – as I told you – is life. They wanted to see what did he say? Did he do some movements? What was his secret? This was what they wanted to know. Of course the people will see the girl coming out alive, bu He said to them, “Don’t say what happened.” Don’t tell them that I just told her to get up; don’t tell them anything, because they were not ready; they did not want any relationship with Jesus. Do we have any other questions?
Q: Why did you mention the number twelve about the girl’s age?
A: That was because it was about the time that she was becoming a woman, and this time is important and we must be careful of our children at different times in their lives. The number twelve appears many times in the Bible: the Twelve Disciples, the Twelve Tribes. It is probably a very perfect, round number. But even this twelve can also be a painful number.
Q: You mentioned that she is at the age when she is about to become a woman, so we can maybe connect that to the first part of the story, where we have a grown woman who is not completely a woman and she also becomes alive, as this child does?
A: This is very, very important. Thank you very much. The one who is going to die is about to become a woman, The other person is a woman, but she is like a dead woman. Why? She cannot use her womanhood. And here you see the total miracle: the relationship with God is restoring – or not restoring, it is – life.
Thank you, and now we have food. And also today is the name day of our Bishop Nektarios, so pray for him.
Recorder: Prof. Baker