Deut 34:1-12 – Psalm 90:1-6,13-17 – 1 Thess 2:1-8 – Matthew 22:34-46
Homily for Morning Prayer, October 25, 2020 (Pat Vine)
There were quite a few Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders of the law who tested Jesus during his ministry. They couldn’t seem to get anywhere so on this particular day they found a lawyer, probably thinking, “Now we’ve got him!” and this lawyer asks him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? And Jesus responds with the two great commandments, Love God and Love Your Neighbor.
Then Jesus turns to the Pharisees and asks them: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They answer, “The son of David.” And Jesus stuns them speechless with his retort to their answer, so much so that from that day no one dared to ask him any more questions. What wisdom Jesus has to respond to their answer in such a way that he renders then speechless!
Today I need to tell you that I am rendered speechless at the outpouring of God’s love to John and to me over these past three weeks. We have experienced first-hand the love of our neighbors. Paul says it today most accurately… “We were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”
For those of you who may not know, at the end of September, my husband John came home having been exposed to a co-worker who had Covid-19. I did my best to do all the safety protocols to avoid catching it myself, but to no avail. We were both tested on Tuesday, October 6, with the result on each of our tests of “Covid-19 Detected.”
After asking for prayer from St. Michael’s, loving and caring emails, phone calls, texts, prayers, offers of help, and cards began coming in. One Wayne parishioner shopped at Trader Joe’s and delivered the food to us in Ringwood. Some parishioners offered hands-on help. Over these weeks, our surrounding neighbors left meals at our door, shopped for us and supplied whatever we needed.
All of these loving offers of help from you, St. Michael’s, and from our local neighbors felt like St. Paul’s words gently pouring over us… “We were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.” You all are the nurses and John and I are your children. We couldn’t feel any more loved and cared for. Everyone who reached out to us was giving of “their own selves,” living out the Gospel of God. And for each of you we are eternally grateful.
But all has not been roses for John and for me. John has had a rollercoaster ride of all sorts of symptoms on and off. There is so much more to learn about this virus. During this time, I honestly began to become discouraged, especially when I continued to experience symptoms after two weeks of being declared positive. I thought this would be over in two weeks! My intermittent only prayer were the words, “How long, O Lord?” as I had no energy to pray or read my daily devotional. One day, when I was getting impatient with the Lord, I picked up my devotional and the Scripture for the day were these words from the beginning of Psalm 41:
“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;
The Lord delivers him in times of trouble.
The Lord will protect him and preserve his life;
He will bless him in the land
And not surrender him to the desire of his foes.
The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed
And restore him from his bed of illness.”
Needless to say, I wept as I read the last verse that gave me the encouragement from the Lord that I needed to keep on keeping on.
I found out on Friday that I have Covid pneumonia and am on steroids to help heal my lungs. I’m grateful for doctors and medicine that help the healing process.
The presence of Jesus has been palpable through each and every one of you who reached out to us in many ways. Your prayers for healing are precious to us. Please keep them coming. There is nothing better in this life than being part of the Body of Christ—when one suffers, we all suffer. And when one rejoices—we all rejoice. John and I look forward to coming out to the other side of this illness in fulfillment of all your prayers for our healing. We cannot thank you enough for your unconditional love and care for us. Amen.