Friday, May 30, 2008

The Mighty One Has Done Great Things

Homily for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Lay Anointers’ Refresher Workshop
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Thornhill
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: the Magnificat

“The mighty one has done great things for me.”
--Luke 1:49

To gather as lay anointers and those who share in Christ’s healing ministry on this Feast of the Visitation is a most appropriate and fortuitous convergence events, for in the words of that ancient hymn, Magnificat, we sing words that speak of the healing power of the Gospel. What can be more central to our understanding of the healing ministry than the proclamation that “the mighty one has done great things for me?” As partners with our Lord in the healing of the nations, we seek mighty works day-by-day. Thus, it would do us well to follow the ageless wisdom of the Church and make this hymn part of our daily pattern of worship and prayer. For if we do, we will hear of a God who not only cares for the lowly, the broken, the hungry, the disposed of the world, but we hear of a God who lifts them up, fills them, offers them good things. And lest we forget, we ourselves are amongst the broken, the lowly, the weak, who are in constant need of God’s loving care.

These words are both words of hope and words of a promise fulfilled. He has looked with favour on his servant, he has lifted up the lowly, he has filled the hungry. And most importantly, these promises are from generation to generation. These promises endure from age to age and his might works are known from one generation to the next. When we pray these most ancient words, when we sing this most ancient hymn, we extol a God who in Christ Jesus has changed the way we look at our own brokenness and the brokenness of the world. We extol a Lord who is ever present in the midst of brokenness and struggle.

While it will be important for us as caregivers never to minimize the pain, loss, sadness or grief experienced by anyone in need of healing; while it will be important for us to affirm that brokenness and illness are real; while it may be important for us to realize that in some cases the body is going to fail; we must never lose sight of the reality that regardless of our degree of human frailty, God continues to work mighty deeds in the lives of all God’s children. From complete physical cure on the one end of the spectrum to, on the other end, the passing from this life into the next, the Christ whose human body was formed in the womb of Mary journeys with us and lifts towards wholeness. As partners in the healing ministry it is our task to faithfully proclaim this Gospel. For at the end of the day, we are not healers in and of ourselves, we are but messengers, as was Mary, messengers of a gracious God who never leaves or abandons any of his children in times of trouble. In our act of journeying with another in their pain, be we healthcare professionals, psychotherapists, pastoral counselors, lay anointers, lay visitors, or clergy, we proclaim simply by our presence and companionship that no one is ever left alone. As Elizabeth journeyed with Mary in what should have felt like a time of abandonment, we journey together with those who are weakened by the changes and chances of their lives, and there in the midst is the Christ, the one who heals the wounds of our souls and comforts our troubled spirits. If we can simply share in this ministry of presence then indeed God will be glorified and the hungry will receive good things and a mighty work shall have been done.

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