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The Power to Change

Rev. Fr. Luke A. Veronis

How many of us struggle with certain issue in our lives? Maybe they are issues which we think can never change. It could be an illness, or a bad habit we have had since forever, or some personality or character flaw. Some of us have gotten so used to our weaknesses or brokenness that we think there’s nothing we can do about it; there’s no hope for change or renewal.

In today’s Epistle and Gospel reading, we hear three quite incredible stories which remind us of Christ’s power to not only change, but to renew and recreate us. In Jesus Christ, we always have hope for change!

We first hear about how Apostle Peter heals a man who was sick in bed for eight years. Imagine, eight long years with a chronic illness. Can one still hope for healing after eight long years of suffering? Yet Peter meets the man and says, “In the name of Jesus, I tell you to stand and  rise” and the man’s life changes in an instant!

Then in the Gospel reading we hear how Jesus meets a man who has been paralyzed for 38 years! For eight years but imagine suffering for 38 long years – 38 years of praying, hoping, and longing to be healed. During those years the man also suffered from a sense of abandonment and loneliness, since surely many of his friends and family gave up hope a long time ago.

Yet Jesus Christ comes and brings new hope and new life to this seemingly hopeless situation; 38 years for Christ is but a moment, and with His encounter all things can become new. Of course, before this miraculous healing, Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to be made well? Do you have hope that life can change? Are you open to change or have you simply accepted and given in to the reality that you will suffer all your life?

That’s an important question for all of us to ask ourselves when we think of the challenges we face. “Do we want to be made well from our own illnesses, from our bad habits, from our weakness and from our brokenness? Or have we gotten too used to them? Have we adapted to our shortcomings and weaknesses and become too comfortable living the way we always have lived?

Jesus Christ promises each one of us a new life, a new existence, an abundant life in Him! Yet this means we must be willing to leave our old ways of life, our old way of doing things. We must be open to radical change! Are we willing for such change because change can be painful sometimes! Are we willing to leave what is old and in some sense “comfortable” and allow Christ to make us a “new creation?”

A third story we hear today comes from the Epistle reading where Peter encounters Tabitha. Tabitha was a woman known for her good works and acts of charity. She was beloved by many. She helped others and lives a beautiful life of love, serving and helping others. Yet, she tragically died at what seems like a young age. Her friends call Peter to come and visit her in hope beyond hope that maybe he could do something. And Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks to the dead corpse, “Tabitha, arise!” And incredibly she rises from the dead.

Jesus promises his followers that “The works I do you will do” and here is one of the greatest examples of this promise fulfilled. The power of the Resurrection has come upon the disciples, has come upon the Church, and such miracles are possible!

These three stories all have a common theme. A man suffering eight long years. A man paralyzed for 38 years. And a good woman, Tabitha, dying yet being raised from the dead.

Miraculous stories filled with hope, faith, and the power of Jesus Christ to change lives. Our Lord Jesus can do the same for each one of us – He can heal and give hope, He can transfigure and give new life to seemingly impossible situations.

This is the living faith we hold and the faith that can help each one of us confront our own physical, mental, psychological and spiritual illnesses. We all are sick in some ways. We all are broken. We all have allowed certain lifelong bad habits, character flaws, and other shortcomings limit us in fulfilling our God-given potential.

Christ is Risen and this Risen Christ has empowered His followers. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit within us and this power enables us to find healing and renewal.

Yet Jesus asks each of us, just as he asked the paralytic man, “Do you want to be healed?”

Christ, the Great Physician and Healer, is ready to change our lives and to offer us healing that leads to the abundant life He promises.

Do you want to be healed?