Sunday, March 8, 2009

Second Sunday in Lent

"The Sunday of the Hemorrhaging Woman."

It is, of course, the FIRST Sunday in Lent in Byzantine Orthodox circles, "The Sunday of Orthodoxy," commemorating all the Councils considered Ecumenical, but in particular, Nicea II (AD 787), which resulted in the suppression of iconoclasm, at least until a form of it was revived in the West in the 15th Century. Apropos of same, Fr. Stephen has a post here, in which he asks:

". . .by whose prayers are you being spared? I know that my unrighteous soul is sustained by the prayers of others. I simply do not know their names (though I have my suspicions). Should any of us be so arrogant as to assume that God’s mercy is not being extended to us through the prayers of others?

"As we should with our guardian angels, thanksgiving should should be offered for these righteous holy saints."
We, of course, have little control over who is praying for us, but we are indeed called to be grateful for their prayers. In addition, my question is: Who am I praying for? Who are you praying for?

At Qurbana each Sunday here, we name many names, both among the living and the departed, beseeching the Lord to remember them for good. In summing up, we always pray:

"Remember all, both among the living and the departed, who have asked for our prayers; those who love us; those who hate us; all those for whom we should pray, including our families, friends and benefactors; and all who are in need of our prayers."

Interceding for others is an integral part of what we are called to do in pursuing our own sanctification.

Today's readings:

Romans 7:14-25: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Psalm 30:1-4: "O LORD my God, I cried to thee for help, and thou hast healed me."

Mark 5:25-34: "There was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well." And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?" ....And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."

Here is another episode in Jesus' healing ministry. What stand out here is that Jesus allows his healing power to be accessed indirectly, without a face-to-face meeting. The woman, like so many of us, thinks, "He is so busy. He would not have time for me." But yet, she still has faith that healing is possible, that the Lord will allow this to happen. And so he does. But he does not stop there. He seeks the woman out to reassure her, to make the exchange explicit. He does this because He desires, first and foremost, for an encounter of communion with the woman, as with each of us. He wants to meet me, to meet you, face-t0-face. However, he doesn't require this up front if we are not ready for it. He makes this possible for the woman by healing her, as it were, by stealth, and then seeking communion with her. It does not matter to the Lord which comes first, healing or communion, because he seeks to both heal us and bring us into communion with him; knowing this, however, inspires us to seek to encounter him directly. To Him be glory forever.

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