Those who know me are aware of my involvement in presenting the Alpha Course in various parishes within dioceses I have been serving. My involvement began early in my diaconate and for the past 19 years I have personally conducted 55 courses involving roughly 5000 individuals. If you are unaware of this marvelous program and its impact on the spiritual lives of those who attend you need to do some research about it and find a course near you. If you
The reason I am even bringing this course up is because it has a direct connection with several things going on in today’s readings. It is obvious today’s gospel has a message about faith and how we respond to moments when our faith is tested. Listening to the gospel and to the message presented during the Alpha Course we are challenged to reflect on the extent of our faith. How much do we believe in the more than 250 promises made to us by God in the scriptures? When Jesus in that upper room the night before he died said “you will do the works that I do and far greater than these” do you believe you can even come close to doing the things Jesus did during his time on earth.
Let us reflect on beliefs we have which are much simpler than doing the works of Jesus. Do you believe God cares about our cries of desperation when we pray? If we cannot answer that question with a faith filled yes, then what hope do we have of ever discovering the power of God at work in our lives today. That is the beauty of Alpha it takes the participants on a journey that challenges their faith at each step of the journey. We do have faith that God cares about our cries of desperation and because we believe are willing to stand before God and ask for what seems like something impossible.
Your daughter has died so why trouble the Master any longer? Lazarus has been dead four days there will be a stench. Peter come to me on the water, get out of the boat and walk to me. Do you believe – yes Lord I believe. In his own words we are told “with God all things are possible.”
Well why don’t we respond like we believe? Today’s gospel has a message which challenges us to tap into that “power” that flows from Jesus Christ and is available to us as members of his body. I have seen God’s healing power at work in my own son as he was healed of a congenital bone issue because people who believed in the healing power of God prayed for him while I scoffed at them. You would think that would have made me a believer, but it did not because the God I believed in was confined within the walls of the church and was not active in the world.
That’s it isn’t it? Where is our God and how does our belief or unbelief allow us to respond to God’s desire to show us his power every day. Power has gone out from me, Jesus said this because the woman reached out to touch him. Here is something for you to consider as you reflect on the question about what it is you believe. When you pray do you look at the face of an omnipotent God who invites you to ask for anything or are your eyes downcast as a beggar eyes would be. Are you looking into the eyes of a loving God or are you looking into the eyes of someone who will weigh the merit of your request?
We are invited to come before God with the confidence of Jesus knowing God always hears us. What did Jesus do before he broke the bread and fed thousands? What did Jesus do before he commanded Lazarus come out of the tomb? He looked to the Father and what he saw was a God who tells us all he has is ours.
We are called to live in the Kingdom of God Jesus established on this earth as confident believers in God’s mercy, his love, his forgiveness and his desire for us to do the work Jesus did while on this earth. If we did not believe that then we would never dare to reach out to touch the hem of his garment. We would never dare to stand before him clothed in our sinfulness as did the woman caught in adultery. We would never dare to get out of the boat to do the impossible. We would never dare to accept the challenge to trust God to act while we pray for miracles.
The woman with the hemorrhage and Jairus were desperate and went to Jesus believing he would respond. This is the message of the gospel and it is the message of Alpha – God is waiting to respond to our desperate cries for his touch. The result of their contact with Jesus was their lives were changed and everyone in their life had their life changed. This is exactly the impact the gospel should have everyone who believes Jesus is the answer.
It is like the woman at the well; she believed because of her contact with Jesus. Then she went to tell others and they seeing her transformation wanted what she had so they went to Jesus and were changed also.
We have been given the mission and the power of God to spread the good news. We cannot do that unless we have had our own life changing encounter with Jesus. You say you believe in the saving act of Jesus Christ. Let that belief now take you into his presence and reach out to touch the hem of his garment and allow yourself to be filled with his power moving you to always proclaim him as the way the truth and the life.