Sunday Message (Romanian Orthodox): 7 November 2021

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

7 November 2021

by Doru Costache

The readings the lectionary prescribes for this Sunday are as follows:

Ephesians 2:1422; Luke 8:41–56

Here is a summary of the two readings, as the beginning of reflection:

Ephesians 2:1422 Christ is our peace. He repealed the Law on the cross, thus demolishing the wall of separation between people and achieving the union of all. Through his cross, Christ granted all people access to his Father in the Spirit. As one renewed humanity, we all are called to be one temple, God’s dwelling, built upon the preaching of the apostles and the prophets—a temple whose cornerstone is Christ himself.

Luke 8:41–56 Christ walked to Jairus’ house surrounded by a large crowd. A woman, who had been sick with haemorrhage for twelve years, secretly touched Jesus’ clothes and by her faith was instantly healed. Once at Jairus’ home, the Lord touched his dead daughter, aged twelve, and brought her back to life.

The message of this Sunday emerges at the crossing of the two readings. Before grasping the message, a brief reflection on the readings is in order, by which we explore their common denominators:

Wisdom Christ proclaims the Gospel, the good news of unity, not the bad news of separation, to all nations and to all people. In delivering the good news, the Lord aims to rebuild humankind on a different foundation from that which caused division. Giving his life for all on the cross, Christ has shown that ethnicity, culture, language, tradition, religion, social status, politics, age, and gender—all these factors of division—no longer have power to tear us apart. Consequently, they no longer determine the destiny of humankind. What comes first is the cross of Christ, which demolishes the walls of separation, its two axes connecting the horizontal dimension of the created with the vertical dimension of God’s kingdom. The cross is the bridge which leads the creation into the uncreated sphere of the Holy Trinity. Christ is our peace and his cross the sign of our unity. But the cross of Christ also represents an existential paradigm. In personal terms, it amounts to gathering all people together in one’s heart, in equal compassion for all, regardless of who or what they are. Thus the cross of Christ, when internalised by believers, brings hope to the hopelessly divided humankind, which is unable to find peace on its own. But this message receives greater focus in the Lucan reading, which refers to the prejudice against women found in many societies. Women have been, and still are, fenced out by the wall of division. In the eyes of their male counterparts, their nature makes them unfit for the Lord. The woman afflicted with haemorrhage did not dare touch the Lord openly because, according to the old Law, her affliction made her “impure.” But she found healing through faith. Orthodox women are still humiliated because of their supposed nature. Let everyone read this Gospel and learn that what keeps one from God is not flesh and blood, but sin and unfaithfulness to God. The two women in the reading bonded naturally and symbolically. By nature, they belonged to the same oppressed gender. And they symbolically bore the mark of the number twelve. Twelve is the sign of God’s people. By associating them with number twelve, the Gospel shows that the two women were members of God’s people, God’s household, the new, unified humanity. So are all those who believe in Christ, who internalise the message of the cross by loving all people equally. In this way they have access to the uncreated life of the Holy Trinity.

It is in this light that we can pinpoint the message of this Sunday, which we can further use for personal and ecclesial meditation:

Message The fallen world of division, marginalisation, and oppression finds healing through the cross of Christ, which unites all people into a new household of God.

This material is excerpted from Doru Costache, Reading Scripture in the Orthodox Church: The Festal Cycle (Sydney: AIOCS Press, 2019) 69–70. The book is available in print and in digital formats.

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