9 December 1990
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
We are in a period of preparation; soon we will stand here, singing together with the Angels the wonderful (?) that God has become man, that He is in our midst, and that salvation is nearer us than it had ever been in the course of history.
And we may well ask ourselves why, in this context, has the Church appointed this particular reading for this Sunday? Why in this context do we remember this (?) healing, as we will remember many others? Isn't it because God has come into the world to heal it from all that sin, evil had brought into it? In more than one of the readings we hear Christ responding with mercy for help addressed to Him by a person in distress: moral, physical; and this we understand. But how it is turned to (?) o n e person in the crowd of the Synagogue, called this woman forward and healed her; why?
One the one hand, God is the One Who sees the heart of men, Who sees them as they themselves cannot see themselves; and more than once (?) in the Scriptures, as indeed – in the history of the Church that God, Christ, a Saint has called out of the crowd someone who perhaps even didn’t dare come forward but who was ready, whose faith was whole, whose need was true, and who was prepared, ready, mature enough to receive forgiveness, to receive healing, to enter into a new life: not to be healed in order to continue in the old ways, but having been healed, to receive this healing as a beginning of a life that was God’s own, that could be lived o n l y on God’s terms.
But is that not, apart from being the wonderful news that has let one particular person on one particular day – isn't that also an image of the way in which God treats us and the world? The world has been crying in the agony from the very moment when it lost its communion with God, its oneness, when we began to exist, but no longer to l i v e, when we begun (?) to fall apart instead of growing not only into a created unity, but in oneness with God, it's own Creator.
And God came to this world (who) was longing for what it had lost and could not name, because it had lost not only the thing, but the name, the memory of it: only longing, only misery, only unfulfiment was left; and God c a m e Himself. He came to those who needed Him; and so as He come to this woman (who is remembered in the Gospel) she was in need; she was mature presumably; she did not make a move towards Him, but H e moved towards her.
And so is it with each of us who stand not only in church, but in life, in n e e d; if we only could look round, lend an ear, pay attention to what is happening around us, how often would we perceive the presence of God, and if we only said, ‘C o m e, Lord Jesus!’ – He would come...
To-day's Gospel speaks to us of the mercy of God c o m i n g to us even when we do not cry for His presence, l o n g for His presence (and healing) but we know more through the Gospel, from the history of the Church than anyone knew in the time if Jesus: (why not come?) ? Lent, a fasting period, is not a period when we should make ourselves miserable; it is a period when we should turn towards God, and realise that He is love, He is life; in the Incarnation He is our kin, that He has power to transfigure our life: t h a t is the joy of fasting, that is what has made the Great Fast be called ‘Lent’ which means ‘the Spring’, the beginning of newness. So, let us move now, shaking ourselves free from all those things that kill life in us, that make us small, that make us unworthy of our own selves, not to speak of God, and not to speak of those who love us, and see beauty in us in spite of all the ugliness there is also in us; and let us joyfully move to the day of the Incarnation, the day of the Nativity of Christ, m o v e towards it joyfully in order to meet him, in order to rejoice in His coming; but rejoice for one moment, rejoice as so many who has suffered, who were ill, who were severed from the mercy of God and the love of men: so many met God, and were alive again with new life. T h e n the Nativity will have happened a l s o to us. Amen.