This Week's Focus -  "Another Day, Another Miracle"
      Click the link for Mark 7:24-37 








 Dear Friends,

In Mark’s Gospel, it’s another day, another miracle… but today is special. We get two miracles today along with two very different perspectives on Christ’s love.

Miracle #1: Jesus drives a demon from a possessed girl. Miracle #2: He cures a man’s deafness and speech impediment. The common lesson of these miracles can be summed up succinctly: We are God’s beloved. Our life here is a brief journey home to the Father. The obstacles and infirmities we encounter are opportunities to discover God and invite him into our lives. 

Today’s good news starts on a sour note. Significantly, Jesus is deep in Gentile territory. When he is approached by a disturbed girl’s Greek mother, Jesus rejects her with the traditional Chosen People’s contempt for an outsider… going so far as to refer to the pitiful supplicant as a “dog.” But there is hidden kindness in this rebuke. The woman’s reaction is to declare her faith in Christ and her willingness to humble herself to help her daughter. Upon that declaration, Jesus says that her faith has made it so. Her daughter is cured.

The message of this miracle? Christ’s redeeming grace, first promised to the Chosen People, is now given to all who come to him in faith. To dramatize God’s universal love, Christ quickly reverses his parochial rebuke and tells the Greek woman that her prayers are answered. Her faith is justified.

This message will be repeated over and over to his disciples and to us today: Our prayers are answered. Our faith is justified. Don’t be discouraged by obstacles or rejection. Persist in your faith. By your example, share it with all you meet. Think outside the box. Help bring all God’s children home to him.

Jesus then travels on and people bring him a deaf man with a speech impediment. This dual disability is a common phenomenon. We need an ear for language and without that ear our tongue is tied. Jesus opens the man’s ears and both his hearing and his speech are cured. I hear an added message in the order of these miracles. I must actively listen to the gospel. I must hear it before I can preach it.

There is a subtle danger in Mark’s cascade of miracles. For too many of us, Christ's miracles are out of synch with our realities. As average, contemporary Christians, we don't consciously deny miracles. We just take them for granted, when we take them at all. We tend to isolate miracles in the context of the long ago and far away. As hard-nosed inhabitants of the 21st century: "What have you done for me lately?" is the operative question.

To the cynical, the distracted, the bored, Jesus commands: Ephphata… Be opened! Open your hearts. Open your minds. Open your senses. Open your will to believe.

In the lyric of Oscar Hammerstein, "A hundred million miracles are happening every day." And that's a gross under-statement. On the macro-scale of miracles, start with the ongoing order of the universe. Intense study of its creation and preservation awed Einstein to affirm God's hand in the clearly miraculous mechanism of the universe.

Follow this up with a closer examination of your own tiny patch of Creation. While other religions have mixed positions on miracles, Christianity is based entirely on a miracle... the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As Paul says: If Christ be not risen, your faith is worthless. Thankfully, that miracle did happen. Christ is risen and our faith is priceless.

We can clearly see that in the many micro-miracles that witness the love of the risen Christ in our lives today. In Christ, our grudges and resentments miraculously become forgiveness. In Christ, the crushing burden of anger is miraculously lifted from our hearts. In Christ, our smug pride is miraculously banished and replaced by serenity. In Christ, our fears and depression blossom into hope and joy...our faltering faith becomes an unassailable refuge in times of trouble...all these miracles and more.

Some cynics try to explain these miracles away on a molecular level. They say a state of grace is just an acquired reaction to stimulus, a self-induced endorphin rush. But the guiding hand of God is undeniably evident… a hundred million times a day, when his people seek and find his will. And these many, many micro-miracles taken together add up to better lives and a better world.

Commenting on the cumulative effect of these micro-miracles, C.S. Lewis wrote: "Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written in letters almost too large to be noticed across the whole canvas of nature." In Christ each one of us is invited to a lifetime of wonders ...Another Day… Another Miracle… Another day closer to home.

God love you!


A Reflection for The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
©The Reverend David F. Sellery

Copyright © 2018 David Sellery, All rights reserved.

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