for Third Sunday after Trinity Year A
people for God's kingdom
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three key characters in today’s reading, not including Jesus:
- Matthew, the tax collector
- The leader of the synagogue, called Jairus
(in the version by St. Luke)
- The woman who had suffered from bleeding for
the life of each one of them:
- He calls Matthew to be a disciple
- He raises Jairus’ dead daughter to life
- He heals the woman with bleeding.
three key messages at the heart of this reading:
- God wants us to take risks in faith, even
at personal cost to ourselves
- God invites people of all kinds into his kingdom
- There is a particular welcome in God’s kingdom
for sinners who repent.
at these in turn:
God wants us to take risks in faith, even at personal cost to ourselves
- The leader of the synagogue was an important
person. He put his credibility on the line by trusting that Jesus could
bring his daughter back to life. People laughed when Jesus told them that
his daughter was not dead but sleeping. Jairus risked losing face in a major
way. But he still had faith in Jesus.
- Similarly with the woman who had been bleeding
for 12 years. She risked the anger of Jesus, going up behind him and hoping
to draw some of his power from him, without him knowing. But she still had
faith in Jesus.
- Faith today is not a fashionable thing in
some quarters. Faith, though, involves going beyond the boundaries of what
is conventional and comfortable. It is less and less easy to have faith
in God in today’s society. Will you take the risk of being a Christian in
a largely secular society? Are there ways in which your Christian faith
can lead you to take risks for God – not to put those who depend on you at
risk, but to achieve something you passionately believe in, and do it for
- Describe the ‘walk of suffering’ of Emmanuel
Neba Fuh, the Cameroonian refugee who is walking barefoot from Derby to Downing
Street to try to make more people ready to stand up against abuses of political
power in Africa. See the Derby
for Africa website
God invites people of all kinds into his kingdom
of the three events described in today’s reading involves someone coming to
a deeper relationship with God. But these are three people from very different
- Matthew would have been a Jew, but one who
was prepared to collaborate with the Romans, the occupying power – and who
would have therefore been seen as a traitor by some Jews. But still Jesus
wanted him to be a disciple – and had faith in him.
- The leader of the synagogue would have been
quite important in the Jewish religious establishment. He would have
had to be seen as ‘respectable’. Jesus had compassion on him, and on
his daughter – because this man had faith in Jesus.
- The woman with the flow of blood, by contrast,
would have been on the very edge of society. She would have been ‘unclean’
throughout the time of her bleeding – 12 years – and so would have been
very limited in the part she could play in society. But Jesus still had
faith in her.
don’t have to be respectable to be invited by God into his kingdom. You can
be anyone – as long as you have even the beginnings of faith. And all these
people cannot have had any more than the beginnings of faith – yet this was
There is a particular welcome in God’s kingdom for sinners who repent .
- Jesus was criticised for associating with
people like Matthew. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and
sinners?” they asked his disciples. Jesus replied, however, by saying
that he came to call not the righteous but sinners.
- So often it is thought that you have to be
a good person to come to Church. That God is just for people who are in
some way holy. But this is not the teaching of Christ. Remember the rejoicing
over the return of the prodigal Son, and over the finding of the lost sheep.
God searches out the lost, the sinful, those who have strayed, just like
the woman in the parable searched for the lost coin until she found it.
- If you have sinned greatly, the turnaround
towards faith in Christ can therefore be correspondingly great. This is
why there is greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine
who have no need of repentance.
- So never write anyone off just because they
seem to have strayed a long way from the path of Christ. It is not for us
to judge the reasons for why they have strayed, or how near they might be
to that dramatic turnaround which will bring them into God’s kingdom.
something for everyone in the stories of three people. Are you like Matthew,
leading a complex life based on a delicate balance of allegiances to different
people? Or like the ruler of the synagogue, and important person in the eyes
of the world but having endured great personal suffering, and needing to throw
all caution and respectability aside in his plea to Christ for help with his
dead daughter? Or are you more like the woman with bleeding, rejected by
society through no fault of your own, needing to summon up all the courage you
can manage in the hope that God will accept you, even though most people around
So I urge
you to reflect on these three people today .. and through the week. Let their
stories become part of your story. Let their faith inspire your faith; and
remember that even if our faith in God is sometimes weak, his faith in us never
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