He is All I Need

In Ephesians chapter 1, St. Paul writes, “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us IN CHRIST with every spiritual blessing.” What do those words mean, “in Christ?” We know what it is to be in a house or a car. If you are like me you know what it is to be in trouble. But what does it mean to be in Christ?”

This morning we sang a song. In fact, we sing it every Sunday, unless it’s Advent or Lent. “Glory be to God on High, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” You have probably been to churches where they sing it a little differently. In the Roman Missal it goes, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to people of good will.” Which is right? Quite frankly the Greek is difficult to translate. Both are acceptable. But peace is literally granted “among mankind of good pleasure.” Who are these people? Well, quite frankly it is one person. One man. Jesus Christ. Remember what God said at Jesus’ baptism and again at his transfiguration. “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is the man of God’s good pleasure.

So where does that leave us? We are recipients of God’s good pleasure if we are “in Christ.” The New Testament uses two ways to illustrate that. One is the expression of Christ’s body. We are members of Christ’s body. We may be a hand or a foot, or a liver. A more modern writer might say we are all cells in Christ’s body. But we are all parts that come together in Christ to make up Christ. A second illustration the New Testament uses is that of the living temple. We are living stones that come together to form Christ’s living temple. The Shepherd of Hermas, a second century Christian work, talks about angels chipping away at us, removing our worldliness, so we can be fit in properly to make a strong tower.

Both of these illustrations show how we are “in Christ.” We are parts of His body, living stones of His temple. The same Spirit that lived in Jesus now lives in us so that we can do the works of Jesus in the world in a very limited way as individuals, but when we come together, in an immensely powerful way.

Which brings us to today’s Gospel.

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick— no food, no sack, no money in their belts.  They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.  He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.  Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”  So they went off and preached repentance.  The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:7-13)


Jesus sent his disciples out two by two. He gave them very specific instructions. Take nothing with you but the clothes on your back and a walking stick – no food, no backpack, not even spare change to make a phone call if you get into trouble. In Luke’s version of the story Jesus doesn’t even allow sandals, but Mark mentions sandals specifically. This leads me to believe that Saint Mark and I have something in common. At one point in our lives we stepped on scorpions and we never want to do that again.

So, they are sent out completely empty-handed. All they had with them was the spirit of Jesus. So as they walked to their first village, they sang a song. . I happen to know the song, I used to sing it when I was a kid.

♫ “He is all I need. He is all I need. Jesus is all I need.” ♫

So two disciples would enter a village. They would go to the marketplace because that was where the people were. In an age before refrigeration, people went to the marketplace every day. They would begin to preach. As they preached the Word of God, the Spirit of God would start to move. The disciples began to pray. As they prayed, people would be healed. Demons would be cast out. Then when it started getting dark they would say, “We need a place to stay.” If someone let them in, they would pronounce a blessing of peace on the household. If they were treated well, the family would be blessed. If they were treated badly, the family would lose their blessing. After they had been there awhile, they would move on to the next village and do it all over.

♫ “He is all I need. He is all I need. Jesus is all I need.” ♫

That’s the key. That is why Jesus sent them out empty handed. He knew that if they went out in total dependence on him, they would go in the Spirit and Power of Christ. They would go forth in the Father’s good pleasure. They would go forth “in Christ.” If they had money and time, they would have built fancy churches and invited people who were too busy to come. Instead, they just did what Jesus did. They went into the marketplaces and preached and watched miracles happen.

Now I’m not against money. It is a good thing to have money in the bank when the mortgage comes due, or your car needs repair, or kids need braces. But when it comes to enjoying the Father’s good pleasure, all you need is Jesus. Anything else just gets in the way.

Some of us have been so desperate that nothing money could buy of any help. Only Jesus could come through for us. And so we sing the song.

♫ “He is all I need. He is all I need. Jesus is all I need.” ♫

And Jesus came through.

And if we are honest, that is the way we are every single day. Deep down inside we need the peace that only Jesus can bring. We cover it up with the distractions money can buy, but we can’t fill the need for peace in our lives until we sing,

♫ “He is all I need. He is all I need. Jesus is all I need.” ♫

As we come to the Eucharistic table, all we will receive is Jesus. And if he is all we need, that is enough.

Jesus Was Not Able

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.  They said, “Where did this man get all this?  What kind of wisdom has been given him?  What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”  So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:1-6)


This gospel contains an odd and very interesting expression. “Jesus was not able….” How can that be? Jesus is the Son of God. That is the second person of the Trinity of God. How can God incarnate not be able to do anything?

To understand this let’s step back and look at the people Jesus was with.

Jesus had returned to Nazareth, the town he grew up in upon his family’s return from Egypt. He had grown up with these people and known them as children. They probably played games together. Yes, first century Palestinians played games. They played a game similar to checkers that they called hounds and jackals. They also played with figurines, sort of an ancient form of Barbie and GI Joe. In Nazareth, Jesus learned his trade and worked his trade. He was a carpenter, or more accurately, a builder. He probably worked with wood and stone, possibly concrete. The Romans had perfected the use of concrete and were using it for everything. Everyone in Nazareth knew him. He had probably worked in many of their homes.

When Jesus went into a town or village it must have been like an awesome explosion of the power of God. Nothing like Jesus had ever happened to anyone anywhere. Even Moses and Elijah paled in comparison.


But when Jesus came to Nazareth, it was more like a whimper. “Hey, Jesus. How’s it going? Haven’t seen you in a while. Heard some strange things but didn’t pay them much mind. Good to have you home.”

In short they had him fully categorized. Jesus was Mary’s son, a good devout Jew who often spoke in the local synagogue, and a reliable laborer. But nothing more. They had Jesus in a box. And Jesus let them put him in that box. Jesus never forced himself on anyone. Not even his close friends he grew up with.

They knew him so well as their neighbor, as their equal, they could not accept him as their Lord. As a result, Jesus was unable to bring his full force of power to bear fruit in their lives.

As I reflect on this gospel, I am struck how much we as 21st century Americans are like those villagers of Nazareth. We’ve grown up with Jesus. We learned all about him in Sunday School or PSR. He can do anything. We ask him for things. Sometimes he gives them to us. We know exactly who Jesus is. Is a cross between Superman and Santa Clause. We put him in that box, and he lets us put him in that box. And as a result, he is not able to bring the full force of God’s power to bear fruit in our lives.

Jesus has nothing to do with either Santa Clause or Superman. Jesus is the Lord. And if he is our Lord, amazing things happen.

When Jesus went into a village, people would give up everything to follow him. To be close to him. To know what he wanted from them and do everything they could for him. Peter said “We have left everything to follow you.” They made him their Lord. As a result, power flowed.

I think of it this way. God’s love is like an ocean. And between you and the ocean there is a valve that controls how much of God’s love and grace and power comes into your life. God has given you complete control over the valve. You can just crack it open a little bit and let it trickle into your life. Or, you can open it up and let God’s love pour into your life. You can even take a hammer and break it off and get fire hosed with the love and power of God, until you say with Saint Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

Are you content to leave Jesus in his box? Where you have control? He won’t attempt to break out, but he also won’t be able to unleash the power of God in your life. But if you are not content with what your relationship with Jesus looks like today. If there is a longing inside for more of Jesus in your life. You know there must be more. Then, surrender all. Tear open the box and let Jesus be Lord. Break off the control valve and loose control to the Love of God. And get ready for the ride of your life.

One Touched Jesus

A large crowd followed Jesus and pressed upon him.  There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mark 5:25-35)

Imagine yourself as this woman in the gospel this morning. For the last 12 years you have a bleeding hemorrhage. It is literally draining the life out of you. You are tired and week all the time and are not sure how much longer you can go on. You are not sure how you have come this far. You have been to several doctors who have attempted painful and intrusive procedures that have done more harm than good. You are unclean. You are not allowed to touch anyone or be touched by anyone, not even your husband, if indeed he is still even in the picture. Whenever someone comes within arm’s reach of you, you must shout “Unclean” as if you were a leper. You can’t remember the last time you had so much as a conversation with another human being. You are an outcast. You are lonely. You are in pain. You are exhausted. You are dying.

Has anyone here ever felt that way before? Is there an area of your life in which you feel that way now?

You hear Jesus is in town. Somehow that name brings hope to the hopeless. You think, “If only I can touch the tassel of his prayer shawl. I believe I can be healed.” You sneak up behind him. People are pressing against him. They are pressing against you. You are breaking the law. You could be stoned. You don’t care. If this doesn’t work, you might as well be dead. You see a break in the crowd and slip forward. You bend down and touch a tassel of his prayer shawl. Suddenly, Jesus stops and stands erect. Immediately, you slip back in the crowd.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asks. The disciples think he’s joking. They laugh. “Everyone.” They answer. “The whole crowd is pressing against you.” “No.” Jesus smiles. “Someone touched me. I felt the power of God flow through me.” He is looking straight at you. There is no hiding now. You come forward and tell Jesus everything. He looks at you with loving eyes and calls you daughter. “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace. You are well.”

The point of this story is that there is a difference between pressing against Jesus and touching Jesus. The whole crowd was pressing against Jesus. One touched him. The difference was faith, but faith is not what you might think it is.

Faith is not believing that, it is believing in.

The whole crowd believed that Jesus was special. They believed that he was a prophet. They believed that was the messiah. They believed that he could heal. They believed that he could deliver from evil. But they only pressed against Jesus. Only one touched him.

Faith is not doing the right thing. The crowd was doing the right thing. They were following Jesus along. I’m sure some were reaching out and touching him so they could go home and say, “I touched Jesus.” But they hadn’t really touched Jesus. They just pressed their hand against him. Only one touched Jesus, and she was doing all the wrong things. Breaking the law. Pushing through the crowd even though she was unclean. But she knew in the depth of her spirit where God speaks to us, that if she touched the fringe of his garment, she would be healed. She followed that still small voice in simple trust and obedience at the risk of her life and she touched Jesus.

That is what faith is. Simple trust and obedience to the still, small voice of God deep in your spirit.

Mary Healy, professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminar in reflecting on this passage tells the story of a Sikh woman from Punjab who had an abusive husband. As he was beating her she leapt from their balcony to escape him, and broke her back. She had been paralyzed for 12 years. She heard from friend that someone had been healed at a Catholic Retreat Center in Malabar. She traveled there and met with a Catholic priest. She told him her story, and the priest encouraged her to forgive her husband. That was not what she came for. But she asked him, “If I forgive my husband, will your Jesus heal me?” The priest answered honestly, “I don’t know, but if you want any peace in this life at all, you must forgive your husband.” The next day, a retreat speaker invited everyone to stand up and thank God for his goodness. The woman later told the priest what happened: “I thought to myself, I have so much to thank God for. I am alive, I have two sons who take care of me. I must praise God!” She stood, raised her hands to God, and was instantly and completely healed of her paralysis. The woman stayed at the retreat center for several months to go through RCIA. She and her sons were baptized. Healy, Mary. Gospel of Mark, The (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) (p. 108). Baker Book Group

This morning I will place the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in your hands. Will you press against Jesus, or will you touch Jesus? Will you take it because it is the right thing to do and move on? Or will you pause to listen to Christ’s voice of love and grace and be healed and transformed? Gaze in adoration upon the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in your hand. Listen to his still, small voice. Know deep in your spirit what he is calling you to do. Meekly follow his voice. Touch Jesus this morning.

Homily given at  Our Lady of Hope 7/1/18