Thy faith hath made thee whole…(St. Matthew ix. 22)
The green season of Trinity Tide emphasizes spiritual growth and fertility by drawing our attention to the miracles of Jesus. Our English word miracle is a translation from the Greek word dunamis, meaning mighty work or power. Archbishop Trench says that a miracle is an outcoming of the mighty power of God, which is inherent in Christ himself, that great power of God. (Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord) A miracle is a manifestation of God’s power imparted by Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, into human hearts by the Holy Ghost. Most of God’s miracles found in Scripture can be traced to Christ in the days of His Incarnation. They are disclosures and revelations of God’s strength which are effected directly or indirectly through Christ himself. John Donne tells us that there is in every miracle a silent chiding of the world and a tacit reprehension of them that require, or who need, miracles.(Trench, p. 16)
Miracles are offered from God to man to remind us of that power, which we are habitually in danger of forgetting. This is the power that must, at times, startle and shake us out of an otherwise somnolent and sleepy spiritual sloth. Through miracles, God reveals Himself to the Jews on Mount Horeb. Through miracles, God reveals Himself, in Jesus Christ, to their descendants. Through miracles, we find that curative dynamism of Divine Power that visits men in Jesus Christ, heals them, and offers to carry them home to God. From what does man need healing? Sin. Every man needs to be healed of what stands between him and his Maker. The instance of healing is not what is important. God lends His power to man to elicit a deeper consciousness of his absolute dependence upon His Maker for his redemption and salvation. The miracle might cure a man of blindness. The greater miracle is his spiritual realization that God’s Wisdom, Power, and Love alone can ensure his transition to the Kingdom.
In today’s Gospel lesson, we read of two miracles that should encourage us to seek out the power of God in Jesus Christ for our own lives. We read of one miracle that is sought out vicariously through entreaty and another that is sought out directly through contact with Jesus. There is desire for healing a relative and passionate determination for healing of the self. In today’s Gospel the order is abruptly reversed.
This morning we learn that before a man can pray aright for the healing of others, he must be healed himself. Thus, the power of God is obtained individually so that the sanctified soul might know how and when to pray for others. This, of course, runs clean contrary to what most people do. Most people are consumed with praying for other people’s sin and sickness. It may be well-intentioned, but most men are more co-dependently consumed with other people’s sins than their own.
So, to today’s lesson. We read that there is the ruler who comes to Jesus, honors him, and begs Him to come down to heal his daughter who has just died. My daughter is even now dead, but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. (St. Matthew ix.18) Jesus takes His disciples to follow the gentleman home. Something then interrupts their journey so that Jesus can reveal to the ruler what should have preceded his intercession for his daughter. Remember, the order of the healings is all important. Out of the blue and in the press, someone touches Him. Behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him and touched the hem of his garment: for she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. (St. Matthew ix. 20,21) Someone has interrupted Jesus’ response to a nobleman’s petition.
The woman with an issue of blood twelve years impedes the journey into healing, for the benefit of our enlightenment and instruction. This woman is an example to us of that personal diligence and determination that must always precede our prayers and supplications for others. She reveals who and what the ruler should have been before he begged Jesus to heal his daughter. She represents that spiritual character and disposition that must characterize the life of the soul that must be healed before it can know how, when, and in what manner to pray for others.
What does this mean? How can we possibly approach God with cares and concerns about others before we are made right with Him ourselves? No doubt, there is nothing wrong with wanting the healing of others and our loved ones. The example of the ruler provides us with a degree of natural good will; here we find a man honored and esteemed in the earthly city who is heartbroken over his daughter’s sickness and death. Yet we must see the interruption of the woman with the issue of blood as a call to our own need for getting right with God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The woman in this morning’s Gospel provides us with a witness to that faith that seeks out and finds, that perseveres and persists until it has secured the power of God for its own healing. She needs Christ’s healing. She has suffered physically for twelve years with uninterrupted menstruation. Yet, she is humbler than the earthly ruler. Her ongoing and unhealed sickness has ostracized her from society, she is embarrassed, and she seeks a cure. St. John Chrysostom reminds us that
she was ashamed on account of her affliction, accounting herself to be unclean. For if the menstruous woman was judged not to be clean, much more would she have the same thought, who was afflicted with such a disease; since in fact that complaint was under the law accounted a great uncleanness. (Hom. Xxxi)
She knew that she could not help herself, and St. Luke reminds us that she had suffered many things of many physicians, and spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. (St. Luke viii. 43) Her faith convinces her that the mere touch of Jesus’ garment will heal her. With faith and courage, she will push through the crowd to touch Jesus. She cannot speak out of shame, but she can touch. Because of who Jesus is, the very garments that He wears must be conduits to the newness of life that will issue from Him to her.
Then, Jesus, perceiving that virtue has gone out of Him (St. Luke viii. 46), says to her, daughter be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole. (St. Matthew ix. 22) Jesus has been moved by the faith that has sought Him out and found Him in a unique way. Silently she prays, God be merciful to me a sinner and hopes to return healed to her hidden obscurity.
The woman is a sign of our need to judge ourselves, feel our spiritual sickness, and seek a cure. She reveals a faith that Christ knows what is best for her without her asking. To reach out to God in Jesus Christ, to touch the hem of His heavenly garment, and to desire His power with a humble passion silently are of highest value to Christ, our all-merciful Lord! There can be no doubt that Jesus was thronged by a multitude of sick and diseased people. But one woman touches Him with humble faith. The commentators remind us that she might have touched His garment, been healed, and gone away with a healing and restoration that was as concealed and hidden as her original disease. For, she thought within herself, her own healing paled in significance to that of the ruler’s daughter. She was no aristocrat! But Jesus would have none of it. The unique, humble faith of this woman must be brought out into the clear light of day so that its earnest passion might inspire others to imitation. This is the faith that must travel out of fear and trembling into the clear light of Christ’s healing embrace. Archbishop Trench remarks:
She hoped to remain in concealment out of a shame, which, however natural, was untimely in this the crisis of her spiritual life; but this hope of hers is graciously defeated. Her heavenly Healer draws her from the concealment she would have chosen; but even here, so far as possible, He spares her, for not before, but after she is healed, does He require the open confession from her lips. She might have found it perhaps altogether too hard had He demanded this of her before; but, waiting till the cure is accomplished, He helps her through the narrow way. Altogether spare her this painful passage He could not, for it pertained to her birth into the new life. (Trench, Ibid, 150)
Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole. (Idem) Her faith has conquered Jesus’ heart, procured His virtue, and Jesus will hold her as an example to us all.
Again, John Donne tells us that in every miracle there is a silent chiding of the world. (Idem) The woman with the issue of blood chides or reproaches us all. Do we have her deep humility and faith to persistently pursue Christ’s power to heal? Christ brings out the faith of the woman with the issue of blood to make public what must shame us.
Many throng Christ; His in name; near to Him; in actual contact with the sacraments and ordinances of His Church; yet not touching Him, because not drawing nigh in faith, not looking for, and therefore not obtaining, life and healing from Him, and through these. (Trench, Ibid, 149)
Will we pursue Christ persistently in the crowded ways of modern life with humble and faithful hearts that seek His cure for our sins? The woman with the issue of blood committed no sin but is ashamed and alienated. Christ intends for us to imitate her humility, faith, and persistence. We must be humbled. Our faith must feel deeply our need for His healing power. We must never think that Christ’s Redemption is for other people. We must never take Christ for granted. We must stop thinking that we can touch the hem of Christ’s garment in the Sacraments without believing in the power that they convey! The Son of God paid for our Salvation with His Blood. Do we receive His Body and Blood as what alone can cure our sin sick souls? Christ is God’s Word. If we touch the hem of His Garment, we must intend to receive His healing power.
Jesus displays the woman’s faith to all for our imitation. (St. J. Chryst.) We wonder why we don’t heal. Our faith is too weak. Our faith is a private affair. Jesus says, thy faith has made thee whole (Idem). In our lives, this miracle should reveal to the world an outcoming of the mighty power of God, which is inherent in Christ himself, that great power of God. (Idem)
Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things
which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
(St. Matthew xxii. 21)
One of the most difficult enterprises in Christian life involves holding things together. Christians try to hold together their bodies and souls in the service of God. They try to hold together their marriages and families. They attempt to hold together the church and even civil society as one nation under God. Christians are quite intent on holding together who are intended to be united by God. Yet the devil is in our midst to divide and rend asunder and break down. We tear babies out of mothers’ wombs and call the separation a healthy choice. We rend asunder marriages because narcissistic heathen cannot abide the sacrifice that is called to struggle to keep vows. We divide our bodies from our souls, thinking that their connection is arbitrary and without any spiritual meaning for the psychosomatic unity of a person. Of course, we’ve done nothing but divide ourselves from ourselves. What God intends to be one – one in oneself, one with others, one with Himself – we Christians are in danger of losing through division. But God always intends to hold us together through Jesus Christ our Lord and by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.
Yet, our prayerful desire to hold it all together is not made easy. We pray in this morning’s Collect that the author of all Godliness…[might] hear the devout prayers of the Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Of course, our prayers should be devout and sincerely aim to be one with God. Devout praying asks God to hold us together individually and collectively. Christians should want to go to God’s Kingdom first and foremost by not offending God who is all good and deserving of all of our love, and by conquering sin and death. But Christians who are awake will find that God’s desire for us has competition from the world, the flesh, the Devil, and even from the realm that the Caesars of this world rule and govern.
The Devil’s attacks are more direct and discernible. The Rulers and Governors of this world are more subtle. Gone are the days when they fought valiantly against the enemies of the Christ and His Cross. In fact, these days, it seems that the Caesars of this world are offended at nothing but Christ, His Cross, and the beautiful history of the West that it engendered. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s has become increasingly difficult in a world where the Caesars are positively godless and a serious threat to those journeying to Christ and His Kingdom. Caesars who disrespect freedom of conscience make it very hard for contemporary Christians to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. It is even more difficult for intelligent Christians who know that modern freedom, of course, comes only from Jesus Christ, the King of Glory. The Caesars of this world fill men with fear over the gain and loss of perishable treasures, determined to hold them captive to the false gods of a human nature that is at odds with itself and all others. Through faith and reason, Jesus Christ intends the happiness and communion of another world.
Of course, the forces of division present in the contemporary world have been around since the dawn of time. In the world of today’s Epistle and Gospel, they were alive and well in vice or even heresy. Vice is common to all men in all ages and leads most men to Hellfire and Damnation. Heresy is a bit more interesting since it, at least, attempts to give man religion, as misconstrued as that may be. As we read last week, in his Epistle to the Philippians, St. Paul is writing to the first Christian Church in Europe. Today, we learn that he is warning them of both heresy and moral corruption. Moral corruption divides man from the good of his body, soul, and spirit, the good of his neighbor, and from God through sin. Heresy divides man from the knowledge of how God redeems the body, soul, and spirit, how He enables man to love his neighbor, and how He draws all men back to Himself. Moral corruption and heresy threaten salvation and man’s return to God.
St. Paul was dealing with heretics in the Early Church. He is worried about the Judaizers. Judaizers were early Jewish Christians who demanded that salvation be contingent upon strict adherence to the Jewish Law. Jewish Christians insisted that circumcision, dietary laws, and ritual observances were necessary to salvation since salvation is of the Jews. St. Paul, who knew the Jewish Law perfectly, believed that Judaizers were encouraging Christians to be held by the Law and not by the God of the Law. St. Paul knew that the Law could never save a man. He writes to the Galatians, I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Gal. ii. 21) Again, he writes, For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh….(Rom. viii. 3) St. Paul believes that the Jewish Law revealed man’s habitual weakness and inability to be faithful. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal. iii. 24) The Law brought the Jewish people into the consciousness of being held by sin and death. For those who insisted upon a rigorous submission to the Law, St. Paul has a solution. Strict adherence by ritual observances has been overcome by the Law made Flesh, Jesus Christ. Christ alone has fulfilled the Law, has obeyed it perfectly, has suffered its end in unjust death, redeeming it in Himself. Through His unearned, unmerited, and underserved death on the Cross of Calvary, Jesus Christ has brought the Law of Sin and Death to Death in His Death. Jesus Christ, the Forgiveness of Sins made flesh, has made Atonement for the sins of the whole world. The true meaning of the Old Law is found in Christ. The New Law brings life and Resurrection if we allow that Forgiveness of Sins, Jesus Christ, to overcome our sin in death to the world. The New Law means that we can be held together in body and soul, with one another, and with God once again in Jesus Christ. We can once again Render unto God the things that are God’s (Idem) because it was not possible that Jesus Christ should be holden of death. (Acts ii. 24)
Remember, Jewish Law and Roman Law, upheld by the Pharisees and Caesars, respectively, are two expressions of the same Law: the Law of Sin and Death. Neither the Jew nor the Gentile could overcome them. That neither Law could hold Christ in Death is the Miracle of Redemption. That Christ continues to hold us in His Liberating Hands is the Miracle of sanctification that leads to our salvation. God in Jesus Christ fills those who mind earthly things with holy terror. They fear what they cannot control or ever really possess. God renders Caesar’s good impermanent and unreliable. If the Gospel is true and men learn of it, the hold that godless rulers have over us becomes tenuous.
Yet, still, we as Christians must pray about what rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (Idem) really means. The heretics of the ancient world and the Caesars of our own seem Hell-bent on breaking Christ’s hold on our memories, minds, and hearts. St. Paul says, Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (Phil. iii. 2) He continues,
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Idem, 17-19)
Long ago, St. Paul criticized the Jewish heretics and immoral believers to shed light on the dangers of Christians who are held by false gods and mind earthly things too much to be of any heavenly good to themselves, others, and God. He showed us that Christians can be as earthly-minded as the Pharisees or any pagan Caesars. Christians too can be dividers and sewers of discord, held by Satan and lost to Heaven’s hold.
How can we render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s if we are trying to escape his hold on us? Why do we owe Caesar anything? It doesn’t seem to make much sense. Jesus referred to paying taxes to the Roman Emperor for the protection, law, and order that his Legion provided. That was a reasonable tax. But how does it apply to us? Jesus means it in a spiritual sense. We can show Caesar that our [true] citizenship is in Heaven. (Ibid, 20) We can honor Caesar and his heathen friends by showing them that Caesar and all men belong to God. For our conversation is in Heaven, from whence also we look for our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Idem) We can tell our unbelieving neighbors that we too were once held in Satan’s grip by sin. We can relate to the Caesars that we are being saved by God’s Grace, which has an eternal hold on our souls because our frail flesh hasn’t any hope without the love of a more Glorious Ruler. We should render to Caesar the witness of how King Jesus holds us in His loving embrace. We should render unto Caesar ourmourning. With St. Paul, we weep…for those who are the enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things. (Idem) When we render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, may the Caesars realize that we mourn for them.
Caesars have a hold on citizens with which he intended to make a handsome return. As Matthew Henry remarks, If purses be Caesar’s, our consciences are God’s. Caesar has us superficially; God has us substantially. Caesar belongs to God. St. Augustine says, Christ’s coin is man. In him is Christ’s image, in him Christ’s name, Christ’s gifts, Christ’s rule of dignity. (Vol. vi. NPNF (1st) Let us return ourselves to Christ fully in will and in deed. In urging us to render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s, Jesus, our King, at least stumps the Pharisees. When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him, and went their way. (ibid, 22)
Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good
work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. i. 6)
In the lections appointed for this morning’s service, we are presented with an excerpt from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Philippi is in modern-day Macedonia, north of Greece and east of Italy. The church in Philippi was the first to be established on European soil, with which Paul maintained very good relations throughout his missionary career. The passage that we read is upbeat, which is curious for those who know when and under what circumstances it was written.
Tradition tells us that this letter was written at the end of Paul’s life, when he was imprisoned in Rome, awaiting trial during the reign of the notorious Emperor Nero. Paul was under house arrest and wrote a letter full of hope, thanksgiving, and love. Paul is consumed with Jesus Christ, whom he receives continually through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Paul is determined to pass on the presence of Christ Jesus to his followers, with the minor distraction of his imminent execution!
No matter: St. Paul is uplifted by his church plant at Philippi. He is filled with thanksgiving for Lydia, the maker of purple, and Christ’s first European convert. Lydia haled from Thyatira but had relocated to Philippi for business purposes. Thyatira was famous for having been a chief center in the Roman Empire for the indigo trade. Indigo is the plant that provides purple ink for coloring clothing and paint for all artisans. The color produced from indigo was costly and thus became the symbol of kingly power and prestige in the Ancient World. Archeologists have found remnants of inscriptions telling us of the Dyers’ Guilds of Thyatira. Lydia was, to our knowledge, wealthy from her trade in indigo. She first met St. Paul on his Second Missionary Journey to convert the Gentiles. St. Luke tells us in his Acts of the Apostles that when he, St. Paul, and their company of fellow Evangelists arrived in Philippi:
…On the sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. (Acts xvi. 13-16)
Lydia constrained the Apostles, and we believe that the itinerant Evangelists were more than slightly embarrassed that a woman of such means and nobility would invite them to lodge in her lordly Roman manor. That Lydia was a worshipper of God means that she was probably a Righteous Gentile. Lydia is a Greek name meaning noble one. So, they took up her offer and began to establish the Church at Philippi in her opulent home. This was perhaps the first Church-House outside of Jerusalem. Lydiawas ready and willing to receive Jesus as the Messiah, was baptized with her whole house, and the rest is history. The Church of Lydia’s House went on not only to expand and grow, but it also opened its collective heart and coffers to Paul when he was preaching in Thessalonica and when he was imprisoned at Rome. St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians is a letter of hope, love, and thanksgiving for the Church at Philippi in Lydia’s home.
Still, we are astounded at St. Paul’s spiritual centeredness with a ball and chain around his ankle, awaiting his impending execution at the hands of the Romans. His love of God with a grateful heart is truly a powerful treasure. His spiritual riches consist of zeal, courage, faith, hope, and love. Paul is under house arrest, and his trusted friend St. Timothy is by his side. Addressing the Philippians, he writes, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you, making my prayer with all joy. (Idem, 3) St. Paul’s letter reflects a life of conversion, sanctification, and salvation and his treasure is given to others. He thanks God, because God had shared his faith, hope, and love with those who opened their hearts and souls to the reality of God with us, Jesus Christ. He thanks God because his new family is an extension of his own redeemed life. He is filled with all joy because his brethren at Philippi continue to tradition or hand over the faith once delivered to the Saints, (Jude i. 3) even as he suffers unjustly at the hands of Nero. He reminds them that God has begun the good work of his Holy Spirit in them. He encourages them to cultivate the good work begun in them, the new life as the riches of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. The work that God has begun at Philippi, Paul insists, will be perfected, and brought to completion if his friends remain faithful to the Lord Jesus and hope in His promises. St. Paul is overcoming Lydia’s earthly wealth with God’s spiritual treasure.
St. Paul then introduces a concept that invites his friends to take on his burden. Paul, in his suffering, takes in with joy the presence of Jesus Christ in the church at Philippi. He says, I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye are all partakers of Grace. For God is my witness how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Phil. i. 7) Paul asks his friends to take on the burden of his love, which conquers all suffering.In other words, he asks those who are not facing imminent death to identify with his struggle, to hold him up in prayer, to put his weakness into their hearts, that their faith might give him grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews iv. 16) Paul insists that burden-bearing strengthens the faith of those who bear it and the one who suffers. Burden-bearing will become the norm for Christian in centuries to come, as those whose faith is perfected in the unjust suffering of others.
St. Paul imitates his Master and Lord. Jesus Christ hangs on the Cross at Calvary and holds his friends and even His enemies in the center of His heart. Jesus takes on the burdens of sin, suffering, and death, with no just cause in earthly terms. He takes on the joy and sadness, weaknesses, and strengths of those who trust in Him. He says Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Though painful and hard, Christ takes on the burden as His joy, His honor, and His privilege for us. Christ Jesus has taken on the burden of all mankind. The Lord takes on St. Paul’s weakness and fear. In turn, St. Paul takes on the burdens of others. Against his suffering, in Christ, he invites the Church at Philippi, rich in earthly things, to discover spiritual treasure. Hold me in your hearts; pray for me; ask the Lord to strengthen and help me. St. Paul asks his flocks to lift him up in prayer.
Burden-bearing is possible only because men realize that Christ has first born our burden of all sin. From the Cross He holds men in His heart, He forgives them their sins, and invites them onto the road that leads to salvation. Jesus Christ is the Forgiveness of Sins made flesh. He brings our sin to death. He rises from death and is ready to come alive in as many as will receive Him. Because St. Paul has been forgiven much, he can pass on Jesus Christ to others. Once, he persecuted the Church. Now he will give his life for it. St. Paul reckons himself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. vi. 11) Now, he prays for the salvation of his sheep at Philippi because, though in bonds, he has them in his heart. (Idem)
In today’s Gospel, we read of the forgiveness of sins and our need to forgive always. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 St. John i. 8, 9) If we repent us of our sins and forgive all others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us. St. Paul embraces the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, in a dramatic volte face or reversal of attitude that converted and saved him from his journey into Hell. The forgiveness of sins, Jesus Christ, is now resurrected in Paul; he extends it to his oppressors with mercy, compassion, and long-suffering. In today’s Gospel, Peter asks Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (St. Matthew xviii, 21) In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Portia has this to say about mercy and forgiveness.
The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
(The Merchant of Venice, Act-IV, Scene-I, Lines 173-195)
God’s mercy and love are made flesh as the Forgiveness of Sins in Jesus Christ. It blesses those who give it and those who receive it. It is of God’s nature to give it for as long as anyone lives. It falls from God’s heart as naturally as the gentle rains fall from the skies. It falls into humble and lowly hearts which will receive it, emptied of pride and vanity, resentment, envy, and fear. It blessed St. Paul. His flock at Philippi returns it to his oppressors in joyful hope from grateful hearts for his ministry. Its quality overcomes all attempts by vengeful unbelievers to kill Christ’s Apostles.
Today, we ask God to help us receive His forgiveness. We pray that the forgiveness of sins might be resurrected in us as it was in Lydia and the Philippian Church. We long to embrace the new life in Jesus Christ. As Charles Williams reminds us,
The new knowledge [in Jesus Christ] is to lose all recollection of past sin; it will be remembered neither in Heaven nor on earth; the Kingdom of the Lord is free from it. The new knowledge…is to be instinctive and natural, a lovely habit, a practice of joy…it is to be in the flesh of man and in his heart.
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons: