St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Trinity XXIV : Fr Tony Hogg

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Disease and death; the two enemies of life. Normally the one follows the other in a dismal 
procession. But in today’s gospel we are shown the Lord of life halting the procession, and 
making it return the way it had come. This is not the work of a living man, but the work of Life 
Incarnate. From His presence disease and death retreat like bacteria from penicillin.
The Life-giver is, however, the Lord. We cannot manipulate him to make Him do our will. The 
healing He provides is always His gift. We must remember this in regard to faith. The faith of 
the ruler whose daughter was dead did not make the Lord’s life-giving power come to her. 
The woman who had a hemorrhage did not cause the healing power to flow into her because 
she exercised faith. What faith does is to make possible the reception. Faith is the hand out-
stretched for what may be given.
We notice that in the case of the woman that she was cured by touching the clothes of Jesus. 
This is not a case of primitive magic, or of muti, still sadly practiced in this country, the relic of 
primitive magical ideas. What healed was Christ’s real presence. The clothes she touched 
were HIS clothes. They were the symbol of Him. Similarly in the Acts of the Apostles, we read 
of the shadow of Peter being sought, and items of clothing being taken from Paul. This was 
because these things were the symbols of the presence of the Apostles, the sent ones’ of 
Christ. What we have here is healing power, flowing through symbols, Christ’s healing 
through Christ’s symbols.
On the Altar today, as at every mass are set the symbols or sacraments of Christ’s Real 
Presence. It is not the symbols which can give life and healing. There is no magic in the 
Christian religion. But through contact with this we may have contact with Christ, whose gift 
life and healing is. But like the ruler seeking on behalf of his daughter, and the woman 
seeking on behalf of herself, we must have come with faith, or we have no hands with which 
to receive. And we must remember, Christ is the Lord. We cannot make Him do what we 
want; we know, however, how full He is of compassion and mercy. The wise course is to seek 
His presence, to seek Him, to seek Him at the mass, to come and touch His garment.
The woman, who had tried every known remedy to cleanse her of her bleeding, which made 
her ritually unclean in Jewish Law, heard that Jesus was back in town and she thought…what 
if…what if.. I just touch the edge of His cloak? –the prayer tassel that Jewish men wore over 
their outer clothing. If only I touch it surely I’ll be healed? She knows that in Jesus she will be 
healed/made well/rescued/delivered/ SAVED.   What she didn’t count on was Jesus noticing 
this amidst the great crowd, and even though Jairus, was urging Jesus on in nervous 
expectation- Jesus stops. He knows that power has gone out from Him, for every miracle 
costs Him. Every act of power led Him to the cross where he would lay down His life in 
suffering and pain. He spots the woman and says to her; “Daughter, be of good comfort, thy 
faith hath made thee whole.” Oh what joy was there! She has been made well – and what’s 
more – she has been saved- not by her work of stretching out her hand – that is but the 
symbol of the healing. No she has been healed by receiving the mercy of Christ given to her 
by His grace through faith. She believed in Him and His power to save her – and so He has.
Just has He has done for all of you, dear friends, who have been touched by Christ in Word 
and Sacrament – whereby He has cured you of sin and made you well by your belief/trust in 
Him alone. When all seems lost – we look to Jesus – we run to Him and trust in His power to 
make us whole – for that is precisely why He has come – to bring comfort and healing to 
sinners like you and me. To put an end to sin that inflicts us.
But we must not forget Jairus and the beautiful story that unfolds. In the quiet of her 
bedroom, with the crowds dismissed, the young twelve year old lies dead; her young life cut 
tragically short. Jesus approaches her and simply takes her hand – and she was raised – she 
rose up as easily as if she had only been asleep, such is Jesus’ power over life and death! And 
the news of this spread throughout the land.
So Jesus brings life in the face of death! From His cross He has paid the ultimate price-so that 
by His blood you might be healed. As there was the raising of that young girl, so too He rose 
from the tomb for us all by the glory of the Father and has overcome for us all death in all its 
ugliness and horror. In Christ we need not fear even death itself – for He has beaten it for us. 
Because of that He can say to you, “Son, daughter, take courage – cheer up – for I have 
overcome your greatest enemies and in me you are truly saved – all is well.”
Christ’s work for you – His perfect life, suffering death, and resurrection – has accomplished all this for you – and you humbly receive it in faith. He has risen and conquered all – for you and all people. Because of that He touches you as he will later, when you take Him into your hands at the altar – takes you by your hand and says, “Arise! Your faith has saved you.” And we can all from our hearts, cry, “Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus”. Amen.
 
 

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