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Stand Up Straight!

Слава Ісусу Христу!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, today as always our Lord looks down from heaven upon us and sees all human weakness. He is ready to come to our assistance, but in turn, we have to trust Him and ask for His help. His willingness to help people became apparent when He sent into the world his only Son for our salvation. 

One of the best examples of that His readiness to help us is in the Gospel of Saint Luke 13, 10-17.

On Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”  Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.  Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?  Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

In this Gospel reading, Saint Luke tells us that the woman was bent over for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. Can we imagine her pain? Jesus is merciful, because when He saw her, He laid his hands on her, she stood up straight again and began praising God.

Our life gets bent over by the weight and strain of all the difficulties that we carry. We get bent over emotionally by the pressures of work and the strain of financial problems, by the worries of caring for our families, loved ones, and friends. Every day in our life we face weakness, and we must turn to Jesus for help and strength. He is always waiting for us. Although, sometimes it feels that He is not listening to our prayers, and we don’t get what we want, but God knows what we need and when we need it. We just need to keep praying and trusting God.

It is very important that we gather every Sunday in the Church to worship God, to receive forgiveness from Him in the Sacrament of Holy Confession. After that, with our souls cleaned, we unite with Him in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Our Savior will always help us through our weaknesses, will lift heavy weight from our shoulders. We should always be grateful to God and praise Him. When we are faced with difficulties and fall into sin, we need to turn to God for help over and over again. God’s forgiveness has no limits as long as we pray for help, confessing our sins, and believe. Every time when we have troubles, we must remember that God is with us. God is Merciful. He heals us, as long as we believe and turn to Him for help.

Again, we see the miracle that Christ did on a Sabbath day. He healed a woman who had suffered for a long time. Our Savior saw the unfortunate circumstances of her life, came to her, and raised her up. He said to the woman: “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” (Lk. 13,12) When people are physically bent over they are isolated from everybody. The visual world for them is very small. They can see the ground but not the sky; they can see people’s feet but not their faces. This is not a pleasant position to be in because the body is in constant pain. When our bodies are in pain, it is very easy to fall and ask God, why me? Why do I have to suffer like that? It is very easy to become distant from God, stop praying and stop asking for help. We also became distant when we sin and do not confess. Our weaknesses take over our life and we drift away from our Lord Jesus Christ.

My beloved in Jesus Christ, always remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ loves us. It doesn’t matter what was in the past in our lives: we can leave the past behind. We always can change for the better using all of the knowledge that God has given for us. Remember, God is waiting for us and we have to go to Him and be with Him. My beloved, stand up, think, let’s change for the better because we are God’s creation. We are children of God.

Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ!


Fr. Michael Hontaruk
Священик Михайло Гонтарук
Assistant Pastor of
St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral,
Parma, Ohio

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