Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nothing from Nothing

A miracle on the North Side of Pittsburgh -- a sermon for Proper 12b

Proper 12b • SJF • Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what is that among so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.”

In the opening scene of Shakespeare’s King Lear the old king is trying to urge compliments from his daughters in return for their getting a share of the kingdom from which he is choosing to retire — very unwisely as it turns out. Two of the daughters are lavish in their flattery — the ones who, as it will turn out, really despise their father and hold the old man in contempt, and eventually conspire to dispossess him completely. But the youngest, Cordelia, who truly loves the old king, is also determined to be honest with him and not hand him a platter full of false flattery. She knows that her love is richer than her tongue. When Lear coaxes her as her turn comes up, “What can you say to draw a third more opulent than your sisters?” The honest daughter responds simply, “Nothing, my Lord.” Lear then warns her that “Nothing will come of nothing.” And so the tragedy begins, as the foolish king imagines that his loving daughter does not love him.

We’ve seen in recent weeks, how it is that old King Lear might have had experience on his side. It is true that nothing comes from nothing. If you want to grow a tree, you need a cutting or a seed. If you want to build a building, you need stone and mortar.

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The pairing of the reading from the Second Book of the Kings with today’s Gospel from John is new to our cycle of Scripture readings. No doubt the editors of this lectionary wanted to highlight the fact that Jesus was acting after the manner of one of the prophets of old when he fed the multitude. What is more important to me about both of these passages concerning miraculous feedings is that they start with some food — twenty loaves of bread in one case, and fiveloaves of barley bread and two fish in the other — and it is from these scant resources that the multitude is fed. Nothing, in this case, comes of nothing, but something from something: both Elisha and Jesus take a small amount of food and they feed many with it.

So this is not a miracle like that of the manna in the wilderness, where bread miraculously simply raided from heaven. Jesus — as I hope you’ve noticed — prefers not to work that kind of miracle. As you may recall, he rejected the devil’s temptation to turn stones into bread. No, he takes five loaves and two fish — which the apostle Andrew recognizes is not enough to feed five thousand people, as anyone would realize — and somehow that food stretches, not only to feed and satisfy that crowd of thousands, but to leave twelve baskets full of leftovers. Nothing comes of nothing, but a great deal can come from something, with the power of God at work.

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A priest friend of mine, Gene White — who I’m sad to say died young almost twenty years ago from a rare form of cancer — once told me about an experience he had while in seminary in Pittsburgh. This was some years ago, as you’ll soon be able to tell. Every seminarian studying for ministry had to learn what it was like to be homeless for at least one night. They were each given a dime to make a phone call in case they got truly desperate — a dime, so now you know how long ago this was! Not only could you make a call for a dime, but there were actually phones on the street where you could make a call.

Gene came from a respectable middle class background, and was at a significant loss as to what to do with himself. With only a dime there was no place to go to, no food he could afford, even in those days when a dime went a lot further than it does today. He was hungry and thirsty, lonely and miserable. Finally he gravitated to the public park and took a seat on a park bench. No doubt he’d seen many homeless or impoverished persons do just that, so I suppose he thought that was how you do it, this is what you do when you are homeless: you go to a park and you sit on a bench. He was naturally reluctant to approach anyone to ask for help — he had never had to ask for help in his whole life — and so he just sat, praying, hard, that something might happen to get him out of this terrible situation.

Well, his prayer was answered, but in a way he never imagined. A middle-aged day laborer in dusty work-
clothes happened to come by, and noticed him, and no doubt saw how miserable this young man was, sitting there on a park bench by himself, with his head bowed. He approached Gene and asked if he needed help. Gene could see that the man was not likely to have any money to give him, but simply said that he was hungry, and didn’t have any place to stay. It took a lot for him to swallow his pride and his upbringing to say those words. The man nodded and said that if Gene liked he could come home with him to have supper with his family.

Gene brightened up at the prospect, hungry as he was, and went along willingly. They walked a good while into the poorer part of town on the North Side — and if you know Pittsburgh you know it’s got some pretty poor parts. The man turned in at the gate of a run-
down house, its front yard littered with odds and ends, spare parts of cars and washing machines. Three or four young children were playing in the dust around these relics of appliances, but they jumped up when they saw their father arrive, and they ran to him and they hung off his dusty work-clothes until the man carried them all inside, and beckoned to Gene to follow.

The man called out to his wife in the kitchen, saying that there’d be one more for supper. She called back, “That’s fine; the Lord will provide.” She came to the door of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron — remember aprons? — and waved hello to the guest. The man invited him to sit on the ratty sofa and wait for supper. They chatted for a while, and then after a little bit the family gathered around the Formica-topped kitchen table. There were places set for all and an extra one for Gene. The china didn’t match; neither did the knives and forks; but that was O.K. The father bowed his head and the family did the same. “For what we are about to receive, Lord Jesus, give us grateful hearts. Amen.”

It was only when the meal was served that Gene realized just how costly this grace was. For what the mother set before the family and the guest was half a loaf of Wonder Bread fried in Mazola Oil. Gene never forgot the sparkling eyes of those little children looking up at him and grinning as they relished this feast of bread fried in oil. And he never forgot the generosity of that family, willing to share that half-a-loaf of Wonder Bread and that bit of oil. They did not feed a multitude that night — except the countless throngs of angels that gathered round that house and savored the rich taste of pure grace and charity.

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Nothing comes of nothing. If we are not willing to offer what we have — however modest it may be, however small and unlikely to satisfy, however little it may seem among so many — then nothing will come of it. But if each of us offers that little, that little of what we have, then we will find that there is more than we expected. Nothing comes of nothing, but great things can come from small things, when those small things are dedicated to God and to God’s glory, blessed and sanctified with prayer for God’s purposes. So let us then give of ourselves, dedicating our small gifts to God’s service, with grateful hearts. Who knows how many they will feed, both in body and in spirit, when we give them with open hands, and in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


The dividing wall that separates nations is torn down in Christ -- a sermon for Proper 11b

Proper 11b • SJF • Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.

Last week we heard about the prophet Amos and his vision of God holding a plumb-line against the rickety and tilting wall of the house of Israel. This week the architectural imagery continues, in Saint Paul’s description of the church as a temple, a spiritual dwelling place for God.

Of course, at the time Paul is writing, the Temple is still standing in Jerusalem, and Paul uses it as a symbol much as Amos used the plumb-line and the wall against which the plumb-line was set. The Temple as it stood in the days of the apostles was the one built by King Herod the Great. This was by far the most spectacular, but also the shortest-lived of the Temples that stood on that spot, as the Romans would destroy it in the year 70. But while it stood, it served as a symbol of the presence of God amongst his chosen people.

It also stood, of course, as a very real symbol of those who were considered not to be God’s chosen people — the Gentiles. More than a symbol, it was an obstacle. Although Solomon had declared that his Temple would be a house of prayer for all peoples, by the time Herod constructed his enlarged and improved version there was greater sensitivity to just who was in and who was out.

Although there was a portion of the Temple — the outermost precinct — in which Gentiles were permitted to offer their prayers, no Gentile was permitted to enter into the inner courts of the Temple. There was a clear hierarchy of holiness about the Temple, and Gentiles were the furthest out and the furthest away. Under the Law, who you were by birth determined how close you could come to the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, the place where God was believed to dwell. Only the High Priest could enter that most holy place, and even then only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The other priests could gather in the court outside, the holy place. Then adult males coming to offer sacrifice, then Jewish women— yes, there was a “limestone ceiling” in those days and Jewish women and children could go no further — and then finally, in the outermost precinct, was the Court of the Gentiles.

And just to be sure that no Gentile made the mistake of trespassing even on the area that Jewish women were allowed to enter, there was a wall and a door and a big warning sign carved in stone to warn to Gentiles. You’ve no doubt seen the signs at amusement parks designed to keep children from getting on rides that might be dangerous to them: “You must be this tall to go on this ride.” (I’ve been turned away from a few myself!) Well Herod and his builders put up similar signs carved in stone with a warning that said: “Any Gentile who passes through this screen will be subject to death, and bring death upon himself.”

This architectural feature reflected the general feeling that devout Jews of that time had towards Gentiles. For the most part it was distinctly anti-Gentile. There are clear hints of this throughout the Gospel and the Epistles. Even Jesus himself, when a Gentile woman approaches him ask him to heal her daughter, said it was not right to take the children’s food and give it to dogs; and he also said that a sinful member of the church who would not repent at the church’s urging should be treated as a Gentile or a tax collector. And then in today’s reading from Ephesians, Paul sums up that prevailing attitude towards the Gentiles to whom he is writing — Greek converts to the Christian faith: “you Gentiles by birth... aliens from the commonwealth of Israel... strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” That’s how Gentiles were thought of: without God.

However — and it is a big however — as Paul goes on to say, that was then, this is now; in Christ, and by his blood, Paul assures that those who once were far off, the exiles and foreigners, have been brought into the promise. And he makes use of the well-known architectural feature of the Temple — the dividing wall with its sign carved in Greek letters so that Gentiles could read just how unwelcome they were — to show how God has changed things in Christ. Jesus has, as Paul says, “broken down the dividing wall” that separated Jew from Gentile. The old law that said that Gentiles were at best far-off strangers to God, without God, has been set aside, because Christ has made of all people a new humanity, making peace and reconciling them by the blood of the cross.

Just imagine how this message must have sounded to those early Gentile converts. Imagine what it would be like if the US government were suddenly to announce that all our borders were open — that the dividing wall that they’re building between Texas and Mexico was to be torn down, and that not only were all immigrants to be granted work-permits, not only green-cards, not just an amnesty for some but full citizenship for all, no questions asked — the only requirement to come forward and say, “I want to be a citizen of this land,” with no test to pass, no form to fill out, no fee to pay, but just to say, “Here I am; I want to be part of this country and all it stands for.”

Some of the early Christians weren’t willing to be that open about welcoming Gentiles into the church. They still wanted them to be circumcised and to follow the Law of Moses. Paul believed otherwise — as did the Council of the Apostles, eventually, when they saw how the first Gentile converts showed the same testimony of God’s Holy Spirit as they had experienced themselves. In spite of the decision of the Apostolic Council, and the experiences of Peter and Paul alike, there were still hard-liners in the early church, who persisted in their belief that the only real Christian was a Jewish Christian, or at least a Gentile who had been circumcised and agreed to keep the whole Law of Moses. Paul’s letters, including Ephesians, from which we heard this morning, and even more strongly Galatians, attest to this continuing debate and controversy — so if you ever are tempted to imagine that controversy between traditionalists and progressives is something new in the church, these epistles are a good testimony that it’s been going on for a long, long time, and as the wise man said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

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The good news — and I really mean Good News — for all of us in this, perhaps especially for us, is that this particular traditionalist movement eventually lost its steam and died out. As I say this is particularly good news for us, since we are all Gentiles by birth, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel by birth, strangers to the covenant by birth, far off by birth. But not, thanks be to God, having no hope and without God. For the dividing wall was torn down on Calvary, and the possibility to obtain citizenship in God’s kingdom was assured to us in the blood of Christ. We are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens by the new birth of baptism, citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles — who made that decision to remove the restrictions and the requirements of the Law of Moses— and of the prophets — who had promised this the day would come when all the peoples of the world, Jew and Gentile alike, would be gathered together into one people, God’s people, in a new and heavenly realm.

And more than people — to return to the architectural metaphor with which we began. With Jesus himself as the cornerstone, all of faithful humanity, Jew and Gentile alike, is joined together and grows into a holy temple to the Lord, in whom we are built together into a dwelling place for God. We, the living stones of God’s human temple, are the place where God abides and dwells. God does not just dwell in a building on a hill in old Jerusalem, but in the heart of all of the citizens of the New and heavenly Jerusalem. This is a citizenship greater than any earthly nation can provide. It is to this, my brothers and sisters in the faith, that we are called and builded up — to be the dwelling place of God, in which there is no dividing wall that says a stranger can come in only on pain of death — but only life, the life of God himself alive in us, through Jesus Christ, who has redeemed us through the blood of his cross, and made us One.+

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Dangerous Trade

Being a prophet means telling the truth, and telling the truth can get you into trouble; but telling the truth can set you right with God -- and who do we think we are fooling anywy? -- a sermon for Proper 10b

Proper 10b • SJF • Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”

All of us here, I’m sure, were brought up with the lesson always to tell the truth. Although I’m sure it has fallen out of fashion by now, I can recall being brought up with the stories of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — both famous truth-tellers. Washington, as a six-year-old child, simply “could not tell a lie” — even when it meant that he had to incriminate himself about having used his little hatchet to debark his father’s favorite cherry tree. This was before the U.S. Constitution and its fifth amendment barring self-incrimination. It is a little hard to picture six-year-old George Washington calmly saying, “I decline to answer on the grounds that it might tend to incriminate me,” instead of, “I cannot tell a lie.”

And of course “Honest Abe” was renowned for his straight-from-the-shoulder directness, both in his early days working in a general store and later as an attorney, and later still as President. It is said that once when he realized he’d short-changed a customer in the general store when he was a young man, he traveled all the way out to their farm to bring them the proper change, which amounted to a few pennies. Of course, in the case of Lincoln it is about greater truths, and truth-telling, than that for which he is most remembered. Truths such as, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. This government cannot endure... half slave and half free.” That was a powerful truth, and Lincoln a powerful truth-teller in his willingness to tell such a truth when others counseled a go-along get-along, easy-peasy sort of accommodation of a diversity of opinions on the question of slavery.

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The problem is that telling the truth or being a truthful person can be dangerous — when what you say is a challenge to the Powers That Be; when some truth you reveal is an embarrassment to those in high positions; when the uncomfortable truth does not incriminate you, but possibly charges others with serious crimes; when a truth you proclaim undermines the power-base of some entrenched authority — all of these are situations in which the truth will not set you free, but may end you up in prison or on the scaffold.

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Lincoln spoke about a house divided against itself, quoting the Scripture; and Amos the prophet describes a similarly troubled construction, a house whose walls are no longer upright, but tilting dangerously. God himself stands in judgment against the house of Israel, holding up the plumb-line of his truth against its tottering walls. It is a kingdom whose king Jereboam has introduced a golden calf into the sanctuary at Bethel, and for good measure — or perhaps I should say, bad measure — another golden calf at a temple in Dan. God holds up the measure of his plumb-line against this tilting, tottering wall, and calls on Amos to warn that the house is doomed to collapse — for if a house divided against itself cannot stand, what hope is there for a house divided against God! Jereboam has done the unthinkable — he has forgotten what happened when Aaron made a golden calf for Israel while Moses was on Sinai meeting with God to obtain the law written with God’s own hand on tablets of stone. And yet Jereboam has not only installed one golden calf, but set up two of them: one at Bethel near the southern border with Judah, and the other at Dan in the far north, two golden calves in temples at opposite ends of his kingdom. And Jereboam has committed the ultimate blasphemy, telling the people, “These are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.”

Amos tells the uncomfortable truth about this blasphemous idolatry, in words that the people, the priests, and the rulers cannot bear to hear. But, all things considered, he gets off with a warning, as the priest Amaziah urges him to flee from the king’s temple, to head down south to Judah, to flee the country and earn his bread down there, far away from the king of Israel. Truly the people and their rulers in the north have turned from God and no longer even want to hear the truth, let alone act upon it; but Amos is given the chance to flee for his life.

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Our gospel passage, on the other hand, shows us what befalls a truth-teller who persists in proclaiming a truth, in spite of warnings. It is hundreds of years later, and the issues are different, but it is still a king and a prophet who are at odds. John the Baptist castigates Herod the king for having married his sister-in-law. In doing so, John has made many enemies: not so much Herod himself, who is intrigued by this prophet and even interested in what he has to say. But Herod’s illegitimate wife has a serious grudge, as the Scripture says, and she finds a way to force Herod into silencing the prophet once and for all, tricking the ruler into doing what he would do on his own by simple persuasion. It isn’t enough that the prophet has been slapped in prison — no, he must be silenced, and in the most brutal way possible, by having his head cut off. Only his death will satisfy the anger of Herodias.

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Yes, telling the truth can get you into trouble. You see the warning given to Amos, and the fate of John the Baptist. I don’t think I need to remind you about what happened to Abraham Lincoln. And how many other tellers of truth down through the centuries have suffered at the hands of those who would rather believe a comfortable lie? If human beings were cruel enough to lay their hands upon the one who was Truth Himself — the Son of God come to deliver us from the lies that Satan wove around us — if the Word of God himself suffered and died, nailed to a cross in spite of having done nothing wrong — it is evident that truth comes with a price, a high price.

Yet this is the price we know that God demands. Though human beings may be bought off with a lie, God cannot be so cheated. God stands with his plumb-line poised against every person and community, against every corporation and country, against every individual and institution, poised with that plumb-line to test how upright it is. For that is what a plumb-line does: it shows how true and on the square and level stands the house, whether our own personal house or household, or the household of our state or of our church.

Honesty, truth, and clarity are what God demands of us — no deception or delusion, as if God could be fooled, but a willing engagement with the truth of his Word and his promise. As the Apostle Paul assures us, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.” So let us, then, when we fail, not try to conceal our failures under a cloak of comfortable lies from the one who sees through all our pretense anyway. Let’s take the example of young George Washington, and incriminate ourselves willingly — for it is only in admitting our guilt and confessing our sins that we will find mercy and forgiveness through the amazing grace of God. God stands with his plumb-line against our hearts; let us, my friends, be honest with him who is so ready to forgive.+

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Saint Mark Sandwich

The Evangelist weaves two stories together to give us a set of important messages. A sermon for Proper 8b.

Proper 8b • SJF • Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.

A month ago I spoke about different characteristics of the different Gospels. I noted John’s tendency to record long dialogue scenes, such as that between Jesus and the Samaritan woman or Nicodemus. Today we have a long reading from Mark, and it is a good illustration of one of the characteristics of his Gospel.

I’ve mentioned before Mark’s interest in moving the story along, and his frequent use of the word “immediately” — twice in our Gospel passage this morning — as well as the obvious fact that Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four. But another feature of Mark’s Gospel is something known as the Saint Mark Sandwich. This doesn’t involve bread and luncheon meat; it is a narrative technique, a literary device.

We have a prime example today: the account begins with the synagogue leader Jairus begging Jesus to heal his little daughter. But on the way to the elder’s house, a sick woman touches Jesus’ cloak, and is healed of her disease. Then the story of Jairus and his daughter resumes, leading to her being restored from what we would most likely call a coma.

So this is a Saint Mark Sandwich: the “bread” is the story of Jairus and his daughter, but the “filling” is that of the sick woman. For one thing this device keeps the story moving — in keeping with Mark’s brevity and immediacy. Jesus is always at work, Mark assures us, and something is always happening, and even on the way to doing one thing, something else will come up. There is an almost cinematic quality to this, like a technique used in Alfred Hitchcock’s films. Next time you watch a re-run of a film like The Birds, or Rear Window, or Psycho, notice this technique: Hitchcock will show you someone looking at something, then he will show you what they are looking at, then he cuts back to show the person looking at it again, perhaps reacting. This tells what the characters are seeing and feeling. More importantly it also shows you what they know or don’t know by their reaction to the thing they, and you, see — and this builds up the suspense that is the foundation for his films.

Saint Mark’s Sandwich serves a similar purpose: the “filling” of the sandwich helps us understand the “bread” and vice-versa. There is always some connection between the inner story and the outer story. In this case, both stories deal with healing, and that in itself is not so unusual in the Gospels. But Saint Mark gives us hints that there is more going on here than simply healing. He uses key-words to remind us that passages are linked, in this case, the word “daughter” to link the stories together. He also tells us that the woman suffered with this bleeding disease for twelve years, and then also mentions that the little girl is twelve years old. If this were a poem you would say that it rhymed!

This sandwich structure and the linkage of the repeating words in the two stories bind them together, and alert us to the fact that Mark wants us to see them as illuminating each other. So how do they do that — and what is the lesson can we take with this sandwich?

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Let’s first notice the “hinge” of the story, the very center — or to use the sandwich analogy, the mayonnaise: the key-word “daughter” links across the boundary from one story to the other. Jesus tells the woman, “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace,” and while he is still speaking the messengers arrive with the contrary word, “Your daughter is dead; why trouble the teacher further?” So in this seam in the stories we are confronted with healing and peace with death and trouble, and going (as he sends the woman on her way) and with staying put (the advice to let the teacher stay where he is).

Moving a little further out from this center of the story, we see that the woman herself did not want to trouble the teacher, just to touch his robe, but in the end she causes quite a bit of trouble; while on the other side of the hinge the messengers suggest not troubling Jesus but when he arrives he finds a commotion.

So the first thing Saint Mark wants us to take away from this sandwich is the importance of relationship to Jesus — highlighted by that word “daughter.” The bleeding woman wants to remain secret, but Jesus wants to be in relationship with her — it is not enough that she has been healed, he wants to know who it is that touched him, and he calls her “daughter” and sends her off with a blessing. Similarly, notice the intimacy with the little girl’s healing: Jesus keeps the crowds outside, and brings only the parents and his inner circle of disciples — Peter, and the brothers James and John — into the house with the little girl, whom he takes by the hand and addresses endearlingly as “Talitha.” So Mark is assuring us that healing is not just some magic act, not just some quick fix — but that Jesus wants an intimate, personal relationship with those he loves and heals.

Then there is that mention of the number twelve — a significant number in the Gospels — but remember that Mark mentions it twice, and that when hasty Mark takes time to tell us something he must mean to make a point. And the point here is that this woman’s disease began about the same time the little girl was born — and recall what it is that happens about the time a young girl reaches the age of twelve, and how under Jewish law a girl or woman is considered to be ritually unclean when she has her monthly period. This reminds us of how miserable this sick woman’s life has been for these twelve years; the constant bleeding has rendered her permanently unclean under Jewish law, unable to participate in the life of the community, perhaps even being barred from going into the synagogue — the synagogue of which Jairus is a leader — just in case you might wonder why that particular detail was included in the story! According to strict interpreters, a woman in her period was not allowed to enter a synagogue or, more important for our story here, to touch a Torah scroll. Yet here this woman ventures to touch the living Word of God himself! And when she does, her interminable bleeding stops — her uncleanness is removed.

For the little girl, on the other hand, her monthly flow will soon start — but for her it is a sign of life — that she is alive and has reached that age; she will be restored to her family, and become a young woman in her own right.

There is so much richness in this Saint Mark’s Sandwich — in case you can’t tell St Mark is my favorite evangelist — I hope I’ve given you at least an appetizer, and that you will when you get home perhaps take out your Bibles and look at some of the other accounts in Mark’s Gospel, and look for other sandwiches. But in closing — and I hope you bear with me for a somewhat long sermon since I’ll be away next week and I need to make up for that! — I want to note one more link between the two stories, because of the core message Mark wants us to take away. It is lost in our translation that we used today, and you might miss it otherwise, so I want to highlight it.

In the crucial hinge verses — the ones linked by the word daughter and the contrast between peace and trouble — Jesus tells the woman that her faith has made her well, and then also tells the leader of the synagogue not to fear but only to have faith. (That’s the way I’d translate it, because in the original faith and belief are the same word.)

So the message to us is to have faith, faith in Jesus who is with us in crowds and commotion but also in private and in secret; Jesus will heal us whether old or young, from chronic or acute conditions, whether we trouble him or simply reach out to touch the hem of his clothing. This is our living Lord, presented to us in this beautiful portion of Scripture from the hand of Saint Mark the Evangelist. He truly has, as Jesus commanded the little girl’s parents, given us something to eat: bread of heaven, words from the mouth of the Most High. Let us give thanks for such nourishment.+