Pentecost 5 B 2021 San Angelo
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? For most of us, when we hear this phrase, we think of a courtroom. In a legal setting, “sworn testimony” is an affirmation that the statement about to be given is 100% true. When someone is asked to repeat this phrase, it is a clear indication that the matter in question is serious.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth can be scary. I recently read an article that stated that most of us live lives of half-truths in our current post-modern world.
And the author further stated that there is a good reason that we live lives of half-truths. Because to face the truth, the whole truth, can be overwhelming. And very scary. And sometimes, we would just rather not think about it. Half-truths are comfortable. Half-truths enable us to avoid reality. Unfortunately, half-truths can also be deadly.
The Book of Genesis informs us that Satan used a half-truth when Satan tricked Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit that hung from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Chapter 3 verse four, the serpent told Eve, “You will not die if you eat the fruit.” When the serpent said this, Satan was speaking a half-truth.
Yes, Adam and Eve did not drop dead immediately after eating the fruit. However, Satan lied about dying. The Bible informs us that after a certain number of years, Adam and Eve did die because they ate the fruit that they were instructed not to eat.
Half-truths are lethal. And today in our Gospel reading we further discover that half-truths can also leave us half-free, and half-healed, and half-alive.
Now, the Gospel text today consists of two stories. Mark does this sometimes. Mark will break one story in half and stick another story right in the middle. And while the story of healing of the little girl is important, the middle story is the focus of the message today.
As we turn to the middle story, we hear the account of a very desperate woman. Desperate enough to break all the rules just for the chance to be healed. I think it is hard for us today to imagine the number of rules the woman broke. Our culture and value systems are different. Even so, I think we all know that desperation can/does lead someone to do the unthinkable.
We are told that the woman came up from behind Jesus while He was in a large crowd and touched His cloak. She did this because she knew the minute she touched His clothes, she would be made well.
And sure enough, immediately after she touched his clothes, she was healed. And it is at this point that the story gets interesting. Even though Jesus was squeezed in by the large crowd that had gathered, Jesus knew that something special had just happened.
Even though He was surrounded by hordes of people crushing in on Him, Jesus asked the question “Who touched me?” And the disciples responded “What are you talking about? In this large crowd, who hasn’t touched you?”
What the disciples did not realize was that the only two people who had any idea what Jesus was talking about were Jesus and the woman. The woman knew exactly what was going on. And this woman had two options – stay quiet and flee the area or tell the truth.
We are told that the woman took the honest route. The text states that “she came in fear and trembling, fell down before Him, and told the whole truth.”
And that, well, that was not easy. To tell the whole truth means leaving nothing out. To tell the whole truth means holding nothing back. To tell the whole truth means letting go of all those little white lies and half-truths that we tell ourselves and others.
As Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”
Yes, we can fool most people. And we can even fool ourselves. But God knows better. And God knows all about the dark corners in our lives. But hear this…. God also knows all about the good that is in us.
For you see, the whole truth is a double-edged sword. To tell the whole truth means also telling the truth of our worth and value.
I tell you if you really want to make someone squirm, look them in the eye and tell them they are precious and loved and irreplaceable. Tell them that we would all be less without them. Tell them that they are worthy of love and kindness.
Tell them that no matter what life throws at them, and no matter what anyone says or thinks about them, they are worthy of love and life and goodness. Tell them that their value and their worth do not need to be earned or deserved, it just is because God is. We are all children of God. When we were baptized, we became children of God, and we were marked with the cross of Christ forever.
The truth, the whole truth then, sets us free from all the unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. The truth sets us free from all the lies and half-truths we tell ourselves and other people. The truth, the whole truth, sets us free from every voice, except the one true voice of God.
The voice that proclaims love and mercy and freedom. The voice that proclaims our worth. The voice that names you and me “children of God.”
Jesus said to the woman “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” And then Jesus sent her home – healed, whole, and free.
Let us pray: O Lord, where we are plunged in the darkness of despair, make known to us the wonders of your grace, for you alone are God and from you comes all our help and strength. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.