Audio Sermons

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    While the classification of a person as a celebrity is a relatively modern thing
    in some ways, Jesus, during his period of ministry, came close to being one, at
    least for a lot of people, and not just his own. He was not in the ruling class, he
    was not a military leader. The Romans were the only ones who exercised real
    military power. And he was not a member of the high priest class that ran the
    temple in Jerusalem but he became widely known for several reasons and one
    of them was that he healed people.
    People searched for him so that they could be healed like the woman with
    the hemorrhage who poked her hand through the crowd just to touch his
    clothing so she could be healed. Bartimaeus, who was blind, couldn’t search for
    Jesus but when he heard Jesus was passing by he cried out as loud as he could
    “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me,” in the hopes that Jesus would heal him.
    And he did.
    And sometimes people approached Jesus on behalf of another person like
    the Roman centurion who asked that Jesus heal his servant, which Jesus did.
    We see it again in our gospel today when Jesus wasn’t even in Jewish territory.
    A non-Jewish woman, who had heard about Jesus’ power to heal, came and
    desperately tried to get near Jesus so he would heal her daughter. She was a
    Canaanite so she belonged to a group of people who had been the enemy of the
    Jews. The people around Jesus kept trying to send her away but she wouldn’t

    go. And she still wouldn’t go even when Jesus appeared to brush her off too.
    But her persistence was rewarded and Jesus healed her daughter.
    Obviously she had faith in him and believed he could heal her daughter. But,
    she also had nowhere else to go. No one else could give her what Jesus did.
    She knew that and was willing to stay and do what it took to get what she
    wanted. What she needed. What no one else could give.
    What she discovered about Jesus is true for many other things as well. There
    are things that only Jesus Christ can give us. The most obvious one is knowledge
    that there is any life beyond this life. Only his resurrection gives us more than
    just a vague hope that when we die we are not dead forever, consigned to
    eternal oblivion. There is nowhere else that we can find the blessed assurance
    of eternal life other than in Jesus Christ because his resurrection was witnessed
    by human beings beyond all hope. They saw him, listened to him, touched him,
    and were in his company. We are here because they were there with him. Even
    before his death on the cross when he spoke of giving his flesh as life for the
    world some of his disciples left him. When he asked the apostles if they too
    would leave it was Peter who replied: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the
    words of eternal life.” Jesus had not only the words but the power to lay down
    his life and take it up again and he, and only he, can raise us up too.
    Also, only in Jesus do we find forgiveness of our sins and faults. You can’t
    buy it, not even on Amazon or eBay. You can’t earn it. But, with a humble
    heart, you may receive it, even when no one else will forgive you, Jesus will. He
    died for that. He died on the cross for us. There is nowhere else we can go to

    receive that kind of mercy. There is no one else who can give it or will give it as
    he did to the repentant criminal hanging on a cross beside him.
    Only in Jesus do we find the knowledge of God, a sharing with us of how God
    thinks and that is so vitally important to us. We need more than ourselves to
    know what is right and wrong. We human beings have been and continue to be
    wrong when we decide on our own. We are prone to put ourselves first and to
    limit our goodness to those closest to us; family, tribe, ethnic group, people,
    nationality, whatever. Jesus won’t let us do that. No one can read or hear the
    parable of the Good Samaritan and think that of the term neighbor as applying
    only to those who are like you. No one can hear Jesus declare that what you do
    to the least of my brothers you do to me and think of others as unimportant.
    Only through Jesus do we learn and see most clearly the human beings we have
    been created to be and with his help, can become.
    Only in Jesus are we pulled away and liberated from the tyranny of living for
    ourselves seeking only our own fulfillment, pleasure, and happiness. Jesus
    never said, the first will be first or blessed are those who are good at looking
    after themselves. No. Jesus did say that if anyone would follow him he needs to
    pick up his cross and follow in his footsteps. We need Jesus to exceed the limits
    we would place on ourselves.
    Only in Jesus do we have communion, here and now, with God. It is veiled
    but it is direct and limited only by the size of the heart that seeks to be united
    with him.

    We need Jesus – for everything. To admit that is not weakness but the
    beginning of wisdom. To go to him, to live for him, to love him for his goodness,
    that’s holiness.