“The Touch of Life”
By Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros
Homily for the seventh Sunday after the Cross
Religion is a way of life in which we, human beings, are related to God our creator. To be religious is to enter in relationship with God. In Christianity we believe that God took the initiative to enter in relationship with us. He sent us the prophets, and “when the time had fully come” (Galatians 4:4), he sent us his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We read in the first epistle of St. john: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3).
The Word of God became man, so that we could be able through him to see God, to hear God, to touch God. Through Christ we enter in relationship with God, source of our life, to have life in abundance. Religion is not a mere belief in doctrines and dogmas, but it is a way of life, in which we enter in relationship with God, with the true and perfect life, so that our life could be transformed into the divine life.
We, like this woman of the Gospel, are sick with our weaknesses, our sins, our failures. But if we have faith in God, and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that means the real manifestation of God, we come to hear Jesus, and in hearing him we hear God himself; we come to touch him, and in touching him, we touch God himself.
We say in the Creed: “I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God… who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven”. When we say: “For our salvation”, we affirm our faith that no man can save other men. Only God can save us! No sinful can forgive sins! Only the one who is without sin can forgive sins. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). No one who has lost the way to happiness, to God, to heaven, can show us the way to happiness, to God, to heaven. Only the one who said: “”I am the way” can show us the way to happiness, to God, to heaven. No one in error can teach us the truth, only the one who said: “I am the truth” can teach us the truth. No one bound to death can give us life. Only the one who said: “I am the life” can give us life, and give it in abundance, on this earth and in the world to come.
Jesus is our teacher, our master. He taught two thousand years ago. But he is still alive today; his words are written in the Gospels. We come to the church to hear his words, to ponder on them, believing that they are God’s words.
Jesus is our Savior. He saved people by forgiving their sins two thousand years ago; but his saving power is ever present in the sacraments. We come to the church to touch his saving power: we are touched by him in the baptism, not only touched but immersed in his power. We are touched by him in the Eucharist, not only touched, but totally united with him by eating his holy Body and his precious Blood.
Christianity is a way of life, derived from union with Jesus Christ. Christianity transforms us to become ourselves the body of Christ, so that every one who encounters us encounters Christ, everyone who hears us hears Christ, everyone who touches us touches Christ. That is the plan of God for us; that is the dream of God for his children, that the whole humanity becomes the body of Christ. In this way the Christ who is an individual person becomes, according to the expression of the Fathers of the Church, the “Cosmic Christ”, who fills the whole cosmos, the whole universe.
This is our mission as Christian: to open ourselves to the salvation of our Savior Jesus Christ, and to cooperate with him to the salvation of the world.
I took for my personal life the following resolution: “No one should come to you and leave you without being happier”. No one should encounter you and leave you without being happier, with a nice smile on his face, with a ray of light in his heart. That is the purpose of the prayer. After every prayer we should be happier, smiling with the God’s joy, enlightened with God’s light.
Jesus lived only thirty three years. He preached only three years. During his life he manifested God’s presence. We, Christians, are the continuation of his presence and the manifestation of his grace throughout the history.
That is why the Church commands us to come every Sunday to participate in the Divine Liturgy to listen to Christ, to touch him, to be united to him, to be filled with his presence, in order to be able to continue his work of salvation in our daily life.
In this passage of the Gospel we see Jesus healing a sick woman and giving life to a dead girl. Sickness and death are the destiny of every human life. But we, Christians, believe that death is not the end of our life. “Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life”. By our union with him, we transform the meaning of our life on this earth; by our faith, we look beyond the limits of our earthly life towards our final destiny, which is the life everlasting with God. Amen.