Tuesday, October 4, 2016

4 October 2016
Luke 7:1-17

Good morning, welcome. Today Jesus heals a centurion’s slave and raises a widow’s son from the dead. Jesus taught His listeners to love their enemies, which He now demonstrates, healing the centurion’s slave. The widow’s son is the second time Jesus’ touch makes the unclean clean and reminds us of His full humanity.

And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; Luke 7:6 (NRSV)
Catholics use a minor variation of this verse in their Eucharistic liturgy as a reminder of our inherent unworthiness and our Lord’s power to heal our souls. The centurion also recognized these truths; the God he could not see but nonetheless trusted explicitly had the power to heal by simply speaking the word. In an ironic twist, the centurion-the symbol of occupying Rome’s absolute authority-denies his own worthiness while the Jewish elders, beneficiaries of the centurion’s kindness, proclaim him worthy. Still, there must have been a few who questioned why God would heal a Gentile sinner.

When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Luke 7:13-16 (NRSV)
This is the second time Jesus’ touch has made the unclean clean and is-with the centurion’s slave-a beautiful picture of the Son of God coming to the people He created, identifying with them in their brokenness, and restoring them to life (note the phrase ‘gave him to his mother’). I could just as easily say coming to us, identifying with us, restoring us. This is God responding to cries for help, the spoken and the unspoken. This is what God thinks about us-we may not be worthy but we are loved anyway, because that is who God is, that is what God is like. I believe one of the greatest problems facing the church today is a failure to fully understand how deeply and unconditionally God loves us. I do not know how else to explain the current insanity. But that’s just me.

Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” Luke 7:16 (NRSV)
 How else could anyone respond to these supernatural displays of God’s healing power? Maybe that’s another problem today-we fail to see the supernatural in our day to day lives. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, the day brings what is brings, we take it all for granted and assume it will all happen again tomorrow and the day after and the day after that, but how often do we give God credit, much less thanks, for every new day?

I believe-and this is just me, here-every act of healing everywhere whether done by medical professionals or a mom’s prayers originates from God. I believe every sunrise, every sunset, everything in between originate from God, one way or another. Therefore, I believe we should all, on something approaching a regular basis, take time to thank God every day for looking favorably on us also; for every single thing we have and enjoy and daily take for granted.

When you go to bed at night, in the last few minutes before you drift off, thank God for what you have-everything, name it all before Him-as if it all came directly from Him. Recently I saw a comment somewhere-Facebook, maybe, I’m not sure-that said something like ‘imagine if you woke up in the morning and only had what you thanked God for the night before’. And when you wake up, remember to thank God for another day, and for allowing you to wake up with everything you went to bed with.

Lately, I have been asking God to protect my house overnight, and my little neighborhood overnight, too. We take so much for granted and I would like to think somebody is safe this morning because I prayed last night (on the other hand, I am also content not to know-it would probably just make me proud of what I did). Or that my wife will make it to the church and back and enjoy her time there because I prayed for her. I think we (some of us, anyway) need things like this-prayers like this-to make our faith real.

One final thought. I believe we need a divine intervention in our country. Not one that favor’s ‘the left side’ or ‘the right side’ but one calls us to unite around ‘God’s side’. If you agree and are willing to (at least temporarily) surrender ‘your side’, please join me in asking God to intervene. Remember, we are not praying for our enemies to see the light, we are praying that we all may see God’s light.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day. JRG

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