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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Well, I’m back from Scotland – exhausted, jet-lagged, but with a mind full of wonderful experiences and memories. One memory I’d like to share with you is something that I saw everywhere I went in Scotland – unicorns. Unicorns seem to be omnipresent; every castle, every palace, on the Scottish Royal Coat of Arms, everywhere. You know, unicorns are mentioned in the Bible. Not once, not twice, but many times. More than ten. Are unicorns real? Or were they real? The ancient Jews and the early Christians certainly thought so. But that’s not what I want to talk about this morning, but rather, I want to talk about what unicorns mean. What do unicorns symbolize? I asked one of the docents in Stirling Castle, the Royal Palace of the Stewarts, what is the meaning of the unicorns? He told me that unicorns were an important symbol to the Scots because of their Christian significance. According to the legend, a unicorn could be killed, but it would then revive. It could die, but then it would rise again. The link here to our Lord Jesus Christ is obvious. He went on to tell me that the Scottish people saw in the unicorn a type of themselves as well: Often crushed, but never defeated; slain, but rising again.
As I was reading this morning’s Gospel I couldn’t help but think about the unicorn. Why? Because this morning’s Gospel on Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood also speaks about the resilience, or the “rising” if you will of two peoples – the Jews and the Gentiles. Oh, the miracles are real enough. The healings really happened. Let’s not doubt that for a minute. This is not a parable or a story made up to illustrate a point. Not at all. But the miracles always have something to teach, something to say beyond what appears on the surface. And that’s what I want to explore today. Let’s look at what happened. A ruler, that is, a rabbi comes to Jesus. His twelve year old daughter is dying. Jesus agrees to go with him to see her when He is interrupted by a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years. Because of her deep faith, she is healed. Jesus then continues on His way with Jairus and the disciples. Word comes: your daughter is dead. Jesus says to the father “Don’t be afraid. I will come and heal her.” They arrive at the house. Scoffers, those who ridicule the pronouncement of Jesus that the girl merely sleeps, are thrown out of the house. Only Jesus, the parents, and His disciples remain. Jesus takes the hand of the dead daughter and says to her, “Little girl, arise!” and she rises from the dead. So here we have a miracle within a miracle. And the order goes like this: The little girl is dying and then dies as an older woman, who is ritually unclean, literally crawls up behind Jesus with great faith, and is healed. Then, at last, the little girl is, herself, raised from the dead. What is the deeper meaning of this text and what can we derive from it that instructs our own souls in righteousness? Let’s look for some clues.
Numbers, as I’ve always told you, have significance in the Scriptures. Notice, first of all, that the young dying girl is twelve years old. Also notice, that the older, very sick and crawling woman has been afflicted for precisely twelve years. The number twelve figures in both. What does the number twelve signify? Well, think about it; twelve apostles, twelve patriarchs, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve months in a year, 12 baskets full, etc. The number twelve signifies the fullness of a thing. So let’s examine further what the number twelve means in the miracles today. The young girl comes from the synagogue leadership. She represents Israel, God’s people, the Jews. In their fullness, in their twelve-ness, if you will, they are still immature, still not fully grown in their faith. Even though Jesus is coming to save them from death, they are mostly rejecting Him, mostly scoffing at His Good News of resurrection from the dead and eternal life. The result is, they are thrown out of the house. That is, they are removed from the House of God as His own particular people. In the meantime, another comes crawling. This is the woman with the 12-year hemorrhage. She represents the Gentiles. In fact, Eusebius tells us that she actually was a Gentile! The Gentiles were far away from God, worshipping idols and living in every kind of uncleanness. That is their fullness, their twelve-ness. These are the ones who will first demonstrate their faith and prostrate themselves before Jesus. These are the ones who will be the overwhelming majority of believers in the Church. But wait, is that the end of the story? Not at all! Faith will be found among the Jews. This is represented by the parents and the disciples who remain in the House, meaning the House of God. These are those who will come to the Church. Jesus will take the hand of the young girl, the hand of His first people whom He knew and loved, and He will raise them up. The Lord will not only raise them up, He will give them eternal life. And what else? He will raise them up, give them eternal life, and give them food to eat. What food? That same heavenly bread and divine cup that we shall receive this very morning, the Holy Eucharist. The Lord confirms, in these miracles this morning, that He has not rejected His people forever, but waits for them, patiently. He waits for them to come to faith. He waits for them until just before He is ready to return and gather us all to Himself.
God revealed to the Holy Apostle Paul a great mystery: Israel's hardening of heart and separation from the Church will last only until the "fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom. 11:25). Then what? According to St. Paul “All Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26).” Now we cannot know the exact nature of these things. We are not told when the fullness, the twelve-ness, of the Gentiles will be complete. We haven’t been told when the fulfillment of the promise to Israel, the “twelve-ness” of Israel, will begin, or if it is already beginning. Perhaps one of the signs of its beginning is occurring in our own time, with the conversion of many Jews in Russia and many more in Israel, to the Orthodox faith. Did you know that was happening? Well it is.
So, this is all very interesting, but what does it all mean to me? What do I take away from the deeper meaning of these miracles? Well, it’s pretty obvious, really. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”(John 11:25). The woman was healed because of her deep humility and very strong faith in Jesus. The little girl was resurrected from the dead because of the faith of her parents and of the apostles. The conversion of the Gentiles began with the faith of one. The restoration of Israel will begin with the faith of one. My own rising from the disease of sin, and my own resurrection from spiritual death begins right here – with me, and my faith in Jesus. Even though the world crashes in around us, even though the world conspires against us, keep in mind what Jesus said: “These things have I spoken to you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye have tribulation; but be of good courage: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Amen.


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