Gospel Reading: Matthew 9:18-26
While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.
A woman suffering haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.” Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land.
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he had reached a certain place, he stopped there for the night, since the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he made it his pillow and lay down where he was. He had a dream: there was a ladder, planted on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and God's angels were going up and down on it. And there was Yahweh, standing beside him and saying, 'I, Yahweh, am the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac.
The ground on which you are lying I shall give to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as plentiful as the dust on the ground; you will spread out to west and east, to north and south, and all clans on earth will bless themselves by you and your descendants. Be sure, I am with you; I shall keep you safe wherever you go, and bring you back to this country, for I shall never desert you until I have done what I have promised you.'
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Truly, Yahweh is in this place and I did not know!' He was afraid and said, 'How awe-inspiring this place is! This is nothing less than the abode of God, and this is the gate of heaven!' Early next morning, Jacob took the stone he had used for his pillow, and set it up as a pillar, pouring oil over the top of it. He named the place Bethel, but before that the town had been called Luz. Jacob then made this vow, 'If God remains with me and keeps me safe on this journey I am making, if he gives me food to eat and clothes to wear, and if I come home safe to my father's home, then Yahewh shall be my God. This stone I have set up as a pillar is to be a house of God, and I shall faithfully pay you a tenth part of everything you give me.'
Truly, the Lord is in this place and I never knew it!
These words of Jacob in the first reading certainly don’t apply to the two people in the Gospel today. In this Gospel we hear about two miracles. The first is the healing of the woman who has been haemorrhaging for 12 years and the second is the daughter of one of the officials who is brought back to life.
In both cases Jesus was approached before he performed the miracles. These two people recognised that Jesus was in this place and they went to him. The lady who had been haemorrhaging didn’t even speak. She, in faith, reached out and touched the very edge of his clothing. She no doubt was embarrassed by her illness. She wouldn’t have wanted to say to Jesus and it probably felt more difficult for her because Jesus was a man. When she touched Jesus garment he turned and told her she was healed. There was no embarrassment. Jesus never asked what was wrong. He didn’t have to. He knew.
This miracle can comfort us all. We can have confidence in going to ask Jesus to heal us. Jesus already knows us. He knows everything about us and he would never embarrass us. We can go as a child to our father, knowing we are loved unconditionally, with all our weaknesses and we can have complete trust that Jesus can make us well again.
This is the trust that the father of the little girl in the other miracle had. This father shows us that we can also approach Jesus for others. We can approach him for our families, our friends and even people we may not know. I know a man that prays for the passengers in an ambulance every time one passes him with the light on. The faith of the father of the little girl brought Jesus to her.
The common connection between both of these miracles today is first of all Jesus must be approached. We need to ask him. Secondly faith is required. We need to believe that Jesus can do this. Thirdly we can be confident that Jesus never embarrasses us.
It is so important to really believe this about Jesus and his response to us and his power in our lives because sometimes we can feel deep inside us and particularly when we have an issue like an addiction that we are so unworthy to be approaching Jesus at all. This is not what Jesus thinks but it’s how we think.
It is how our illness can keep us from going to our healer. Returning to Jesus beats addiction, but beating addiction is still a battle but it is a battle that is really worth fighting. It is not a battle that we have to face on our own. Yes, we have Jesus but Jesus has also gifted us with Saints who we can approach in prayer and ask for their intercession. He has gifted us with Matt Talbot. Matt Talbot has not received the full ranking of a Saint within the Church but he has been recognised as Venerable which is a recognition that he may well be canonised. Perhaps there will be someone here tonight who will be healed or who has a family member who will be healed by asking for his intercession.
There are also many Saints who are not publicly acknowledged by the Church but we all know someone who has died that we recognise as a possible Saint. We can ask these souls to intercede for us as well. We can’t have too many in heaven asking God to help us.
Tonight unlike Jacob in the first reading who didn’t initially recognise that God was in this place we can be absolutely confident that God is present here and now and so we can pray
Lord thank you for the Saints that I have known in my life. I ask them to intercede for all of us and especially those dealing with an addiction. Amen.