Sunday, August 3, 2008

Let us Cry Out...Lord, Have Mercy on Us!

I remember a lot of things from when I was young. Like any child, I have memories of growing up and all the pains and joys that go with it. One thing I remember very clearly is a dream I used to have quite often. It was almost always the same. I was in danger and I had lost my voice so I couldn’t cry out for help. One version of this dream that I can remember, as if I had it last night, involved a fire engine speeding down the street and I was lying in the street unable to move. I tried and tried to call my mother but nothing but air came from my mouth. I cannot describe the extreme terror that I felt until finally I rolled out of the way to safety. Then finally I found my voice and I cried out to my mother for help.

This is almost the same scene that we find in this morning’s Gospel. Two blind men were following Jesus and St Matthew tells us they were, “crying out and saying, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 9.27) They didn’t cry out only once, the Gospel says they were “crying out and saying [continuously] ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!” Imagine for a moment what that must have been like. They were totally blind and yet the Gospel says they followed Jesus all the while crying out.

If we look a little further into the Gospel we know that Jesus had just healed the woman with the flow of blood (Matthew 9.20-22) and brought back to life the daughter of Jairus, (Matthew 9.18-26) the rich ruler. We can presume then that the two blind men knew of these miracles and knew about the power of God since the news of these miracles “went out into all the land.” (Matthew 9.26) When they heard that Jesus passed by right in front of them, they cried out for help. I figure they must have thought to themselves, “Hey, He just healed them, why not us?”

So why not us my dear brothers and sisters in Christ? The Gospel this morning is sending us a very clear message. “Jesus has to power to heal, we should call Him.” Are we any different from the blind men in this story? We’re not physically blind but we might be a bit spiritually blind. We all have moments when we can’t see God. I know I do, but we are here following Christ just as they were. When we cry out to Jesus “Lord, have mercy, Κὐριε, Ελέησον!” during the Divine Liturgy we are doing just as they did and Christ will turn to us just as He turned to them.

We should see the whole Divine Liturgy this way. Just a few minutes ago, we prayed together, “Lord, have mercy” after every petition for peace, for health, for unity, for seasonable weather. You name it, we just prayed for it and after each petition we sang, “Lord, have mercy.” And God will hear us my dear brothers and sisters.

When Jesus heard the blind men crying out He took them into their house and asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9.28) Jesus has heard us this morning and has called us inside His House. When He asks us whether we believe, our answer must be the same as theirs, “yes, Lord.” (Matthew 9.28) And He will heal us just as He healed the blind men and just as He healed the demoniac in this morning’s Gospel.

According to St Matthew, as Jesus was leaving the house of the blind men, a man who was demon-possessed was brought to Him and was healed because Jesus had compassion on him. And just as the Pharisees didn’t believe Jesus, there will be some people around us that don’t believe. Our job is to be like the blind men who “spread the news about Him in all that country.” (Matthew 9.31) so others can come and see for themselves the healing power of God.

This week we have a wonderful opportunity to put this story into action in our own lives. Starting this evening and throughout the week, we will gather here to have a Paraklesis Service, a supplication service to the Theotokos, to ask for healing and salvation from God. What a great chance to cry out “Lord, have mercy.” each night this week in God’s House. Come at least once this week and pray with us for God’s mercy on all of our family and friends. Remember Jesus healed the demoniac just because someone brought him. Jesus will heal others also when we have the faith to bring them or least their names, to the Church, God’s House, for healing.

Jesus entered the house of the blind men and touched them and they were healed. He will touch us too, if we allow Him to. In just a few minutes and again on Wednesday morning, we will be blessed to receive into our own bodies the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, “for health and life eternal.” When the chalice is brought out and we hear “With the fear of God, with faith and love draw near,” this is our chance to say, yes Lord I believe… and we will be healed.

We are told, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9.35) This means that Jesus is at work here in Florence too my dear brothers and sisters. The Church is the living breathing Jesus Christ for those in Florence who are in need of healing.

There is no sickness or disease that Jesus cannot heal… even death. We don’t always know what sort of healing we will receive but we will be healed. That is the Good News of this morning’s Gospel. If we call upon Him, and have faith in Him, He will heal us. Then all we have to do is spread His fame throughout all the land.

In my dream I was unable to cry out to my mother for help until I finally took action and rolled out of the street and let the fire engine roar past my head. The blind men in this morning’s Gospel had to take action and follow Jesus before they called out to Him and were healed by God. The demoniac had to be brought to Christ for him to be healed. God will heal us, the only thing we need to do is take action and cry out to Him, “Lord, have mercy.”

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