Living With Expectant Faith

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord. We are connected to Jesus in a most powerful way, whenever we receive His Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Several months ago, I visited the Washington County Jail for a Word and Communion Service. As is my custom at the end of the service, I offered prayer to those who attended. The jail has a “no touch” policy, which protects both those working or volunteering, as well as the residents of the facility. I typically place my stole over the shoulder of the person I am praying for and then offer prayer. In doing this, I explain that the stole of a priest or deacon is like the hem of Christ’s garment. I remind them of the story of the woman in Luke’s gospel, who suffered hemorrhages. She believed that if she touched the hem of Christ’s garment, Jesus would heal her. She did so, and was instantly healed from her affliction.

I met Matt at the jail that morning a few months ago. I placed my stole over him and prayed for him. We shook hands and parted company. Two months later, I met Matt again at the Stillwater Prison, where he had been sentenced to serve time. As I was shaking hands with the men departing the chapel, Matt introduced himself to me again. He reminded me that I had met him at the jail a few months earlier. He also reminded me that I placed my stole over his shoulders and prayed for him. He told me that “something happened” in his heart with that prayer. God touched him powerfully, and he began to amend his life. I thanked him for sharing the story.

Two weeks ago, I was at Stillwater Prison again for a service. Matt stopped to talk with me following the service.   He would be getting out of prison soon, and he was excited and a bit apprehensive about the future. He then did something that residents of correctional facilities aren’t supposed to do—he asked me for a favor! Our annual training emphasizes that volunteers should not do any favors for residents of the facility. This is to protect the volunteers, as well as the residents. Matt’s request was completely reasonable. He asked me if I would put my stole over his shoulders and pray for him again. Of course!

Matt had tasted Jesus in the Eucharist, and now he wanted another experience of touching the hem of His garment. There is tremendous healing for us each time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. We may not notice the healing happening, but God is constantly drawing us closer to His heart, each time we receive Him in the Eucharist. Matt recognized that Jesus wanted to give him healing and freedom. This was a beautiful act of faith. He was not afraid to ask for what he needed. Matt was learning to live his life with expectant faith!

Each time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we experience a beautiful exchange. Jesus in His Divinity meets us in our humanity. There is a beautiful moment of encounter, as we say “Amen” and He enters the very space of our being. In that moment, we are like the woman, who reached out to touch the hem of Christ’s garment. She believed that Jesus would heal her, and she was healed.

Jesus is with us. He is powerfully present in every prayer we offer, and most powerfully present each time we receive Him in the Eucharist. There is no need for us to be afraid, anxious or stressed. The world will test us at times. It is those times in which we need to lean more and more on our Lord, for the strength to weather the storms of life.

Like Matt and the woman who touched the hem of Jesus, you and I must learn to receive with expectant faith. God has abundant blessings for us! The Lord wants to give us more and more, but sometimes we are afraid to ask; sometimes we ask without expecting anything. God will never be outdone in His generosity of giving us grace for every trial and in His mercy when we fall. Let us open our hearts to the God who knows us and loves us and wants to give us a life of blessings.

In Christ,

Deacon Tim

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