Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sinmbang Gabi

A Sermon on the Gospel of Mark 5:25-34 preached in Davao City, Cathedral United Methodist Church.

A Future with Hope is Coming

By Neki Soriano, MD

It is nice to be back here in Central UMC. It is always nice to be back here in Davao City. I always have to wait for one year before I can have a reason to come back home. Waiting for that one year is almost forever. But I always anticipate this moment. I always wait for this one moment in time when I can be together with my family and friends. Despite waiting for one year, I am always hopeful that this time will come and it will be a joyful occasion Advent is like that. We anticipate – we wait for the coming of the king, we wait to see our Lord and Master and be in his presence and we hope that when that time comes it will be a wonderful event. We wait and hope for the best. This is the same hopeful waiting that the woman in our Gospel text experienced.

We read about a woman who has been bleeding for a long time. She is bleeding. “Dinudugo siya!” Eh di may regla. That is common among women. So it should be nothing unusual for her. But this is not menstruation. This is not a usual problem for her. But she had been bleeding for years. Hindi naman sinabi kung saan ang pagdurugo niya. And so the doctor in me naturally thought that this was a case of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding. Most probably this was cancer and it was probably at the end stage. But the woman is not just suffering from cancer. She was suffering more than that. During those times, bleeding was a sign of uncleanliness. So the bleeding woman is reckoned to be unclean. And she knows it. People think it too. The woman who is bleeding is unclean, and unclean people should be shunned away by the society, rejected, and discriminated. People look at her in an indifferent way. More than the physical pain she was suffering, she could be hurting inside her heart. People hate her. People don’t like her. And people say all the bad things about her behind her back.

I remembered one friend of mine from college who became very sick. He was very thin, he was weak and he was sickly. For almost two years, he goes in and out in the hospital for treatment of different kind of infections. He was bisexual but he was a decent man and he continued to go to work in one of the offices here in Davao despite being sickly. But two months ago, he became very ill. He was immunocompromised and people are having opinions on why he was immunocompromised. His officemates began to distance themselves from him. People did not want to associate with him. Even his family wanted him out of their house. So he went to Manila to seek help and he was admitted in one of the hospitals there. He eventually died of complications of a rare form of pneumonia. This was the same treatment that this woman was experiencing. She was being rejected.

And so what the bleeding woman did was do everything possible in her human effort to find a solution to her problem. She did it her own way. So she consulted every doctor she knew. The gospel text said that she spent all her money and properties just so she can cure her illness. But obviously it did not treat the problem. In fact her condition worsened.

I was trying to imagine and understand her situation. I thought she could be like my friend who wanted to be rich. He was a proud man. He wanted to do things on his own. So he borrowed some money from his father to start his own internet business. He had a sister who was a business degree and wanted to help him in his business. But he thought he can do it on his own. His sister got upset and so was their parents that their family relationship suffered. Aside from that, my friend did not also want his wife to be working nor be involved in any of his business. His wife was so hurt to not trust her in matters that affect their family that she left him. In short, he was his own boss. Because his argument was that, he was a lucky man and with his luck and his own efforts he can succed. He can do everything on his own. Because he was self-centered his business did not click. He is now bankrupt, his family is angry at him and his wife left him. He lost everything all because he put his trust in the wrong places. Just like the woman in our story.

So for twelve years, she has been miserable. This is a common human response. Whenever we are faced with a problem, we immediately try to find a solution – on our own efforts. We try to spend all our efforts and resources in finding a solution. But we never ever ask for God’s help. We are too proud for that. We think we can do it on our own.

In the hospital, many people go to the doctors to seek help. The doctors are very willing to help them of course. The patient goes to the doctor and they say, “gawin nyo po ang lahat ng makakaya ninyo para pagalinging ako.” Gawin nyo lahat ng makakaya ninyo – lahat ng makakaya ng doctor. Of course, the arrogant doctor will say, I will do all that I can. But that is just human effort. The doctor will do everything he can but that will just be human effort. But a greater healing will happen if God is at work. But we all know that medicine, the doctors, the nurses are nothing but God’s instrument of healing. They are not the ones who will treat the disease. It is God who does the work. And so the doctors were not able to cure her. And for twelve long years, she suffered.

I want you to experience her suffering, her suffering for twelve long years. She did not only suffer physical discomfort, she also suffered mental anguish and emotional pain, does she have family? Where are they? If she had a family, they must have abandoned her because she was unclean – she is sinful. A woman who is already suffering physically gets more insult to he injury by being rejected by her family and the society giving her psychoemotional pain.

And it did not last for one day, not even one week, it was more than a month, matatapos din yan… it was more than a year, imagine a chile growing a year older… but the pain and anguish is still there… for twelve years… graduate na ng elementary and highschool yung bata… you are still being rejected and discriminated. Ganun katagal. This is her condition. This is the moment when she was desperate to find any means to end her suffering. And then she heard about Jesus.

Jesus was coming to town. And so she thought. This Jesus is known to make miracles happen. In a desperate move, she thinks that this Jesus can help her. So she said, I will go and touch his garment. Because even touching it will heal me. She had so much faith that Jesus can heal her. She was full of hope that finally, she will be cured from all her diseases.

This is our hope this advent season – we will be made whole when Jesus comes. And Jesus is coming. Jesus is our hope. Hope is coming. Our future is with Hope.

The good news my dear brothers and sisters is Jesus is coming to town. Yes, Jesus is coming to town, that is the meaning of Advent. When he comes, we can touch him and we will be made whole again.

Sometimes we may be like the crowd who are near Jesus, they may be even rubbing elbows with him, but we need to touch him and through faith receive his power to be made whole again. We need to touch him, attach with him, join him and be with him that we may be made whole. To touch Jesus means to be like him. To be attach with Jesus is to be Christ-like in everything aspect of our life. To join Jesus and be with him is to walk in Christian perfection. The challenge for us this advent season, are we touching Jesus? Are we walking toward Christ-likeness? Are we moving towards Christian perfection in what we think, say and do? Jesus is coming to town and like the woman, let us have the desire to touch and attach with Jesus – to walk in Christ-likeness towards wholeness and Christian perfection. When Jesus comes, when Hope is here, it will be a joyful and glorious occasion. In the name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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