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Pastor's Letter 20210627 - 27 June 2021 - That We May Have Life

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June 27th, 2021

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Jesus asked: “Who has touched My cloak?”

A Message from Father †Michael

Today’s Theme:   “That We May Have Life”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

Our First Reading has been chosen to give background to the message of today’s Gospel—that Jesus’ saving power can dominate even death (Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24.)  The author was most certainly from Alexandria, and had fully assimilated the insight of the blessed immortality of the just with God beyond death.  He asserts that God is good and wants human happiness.  Christians can heartily believe this, along with the premise that righteousness leads to immortality—unless it is forfeited through sin.

Paul stresses his congregation that Christians are not expected to be impoverished, but nonetheless, to share their bounty with those who are less blessed than they (2 Corinthians 8:7-15.) and find it intolerable tha one community could live in affluence while another is in material need.

In today’s Gospel, we are given an account of two more miracles, which Jesus performed, showing that saving power can overcome sickness and even death (Mark 5:21-43.)  God did not create human beings to destroy them, but that they should enjoy everlasting life.

Seeking a “Quick Fix”

Oftentimes, although the “quick-fix” isn’t quite fulfilling, we seek it.  Our hectic lives lead us to opt for “enough to get by,” when we really need more.

We don’t like to be treated in a hasty and impersonal manner, yet there is a part of us that shies away from personal encounters.  Our “texting” and “Instagram” existence leads us to substitute the “snippet,” and the quick prescription for the consultation.  We believe that “our time is valuable,” so we want our inconvenience to be short, and to the point.

The suffering woman in today’s Gospel story was of this sort, also.  Like others of her day, she believed simply touching a holy person’s garment would affect her cure, and she showed great determination getting through the crowd to Jesus.  We learned that her faith was, indeed, rewarded—she was cured immediately.  But just as she was about to slink away into the anonymity of the crowd, Jesus sought her out.  Although some healers may seek to reduce human contact to a minimum, He didn’t believe in that type of cure.  He was aware that some power went from Him, due to the cure, but He wanted to deal with the woman on a personal level.

He insisted on a face-to-face encounter.  He knew she didn’t simply need physical healing, but psychological and spiritual healing, too.  By touching Jesus, she rendered Him ritually unclean, as she was.  But He didn’t scold here for reprehensible conduct.  Instead He commended her faith, speaking the lovely words, “My daughter, your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free of your complaint.”   It wasn’t enough just to touch Jesus.  Others touched Him, but she touched him with faith.  Faith enabled this poor, frightened, sick, untouchable woman to recognize Jesus’ power, and she awakened that power with a touch.

In therapy and healing, the problem is always the “whole person,” never the symptoms alone.  Questions have to asked that challenge the whole personality.  It’s not just the leg, or arm, that is being treated, but a person!  Jesus never just cured an illness—He cured a sick person.  His words heal the spirit; He touches and thereby heals the whole body.

Power Even Over Death

The second miracle in our Gospel story today has to do with Jairus, the leader of the Synagogue.  Although his daughter was still alive when he encountered Jesus, by the time they returned to his house, she had died.  This news was despairing for Jairus and the others with him, and suggested less urgency for Jesus’ visit.

In effect, they were of the mind that even though Jesus could heal the sick, they couldn’t believe He had power over death.  But Jesus was not deterred, and His serene hope contrasted with the mourners and those around the child.  He went to her and bid her “arise.”

We have to wonder what the early Christians could have made of this story.  They too suffered illnesses, and members of their community also died.  For Mark and his readers the story was a manifestation of the power of the risen Lord to dominate death, itself.  The girl was raised because He is “the resurrection and the life!”  The message clearly is that the risen Lord dominated death!  

Faith in Jesus can transform life and is the victory over death.  For believers, faith in Jesus teaches us that death is only a “sleep” from which we can and will awaken.  For most of us, this will occur in the “world to come.”  In fact for the early Christians, they laid their dead to rest in “a sleeping place”—koimeterion (a Greek word, from which “cemetery” derives.)   Both our Gospel stories today show that, even when, humanly speaking, there is no hope, the power of God can prevail over sickness and even death itself. Mark tells us that this power is present in Jesus.

The Difference that Faith Makes

Patients without faith are at a distinct disadvantage. They endure a threefold suffering: they suffer their disease; they suffer because they believe it is meaningless to them; and they suffer because it suspends their life.  They see their malady as something to be endured, rather than lived.  Their lives are “on hold,” as they wait, passively, for things to get back to normal, when they can begin to live again.  They are living in the future, rather than the present.

On the other hand, patients with faith are in a much better position. Though faith may not deliver them from their disease, or diminish the suffering it causes them, believers continue to live as intensely as before, perhaps even more so.  They can seek God in sickness as well as in health, and their sickness can turn out to be such a fruitful experience that they may even bless their sickness….

Nevertheless, it is not easy to deal positively with illness.  But unless people do, the time of illness becomes a complete waste, just so much “junk.”  They throw away the vital raw material instead of trying to transform it. The sick must be helped to see their illness in the larger context of their life.  To see it, not as some unfortunate episode in their life, but as an intrinsic part of it.  It is as valuable as any other part of life, and it has the potential to enrich them.   They must be enabled to tap into their spiritual resources in times of crisis.  Spirituality can thrive in a hospital setting. Then, the human spirit is stripped of its power and status, and is at its most vulnerable.  It is then we are forced to draw upon our spiritual resources, in order for an enrichment—a deepening of the person—can result.  

“Illnesses remind us that we are not made of wood.” (Van Gogh) A painful illness causes us to reflect on our lives, teaching us to be compassionate towards others who are suffering.  It is then we can drive a new understanding of our vulnerability as human beings.  Compassion is not learned without suffering….

May God Richly Bless You!

“First do what’s necessary; then do what’s possible…. And suddenly, you are doing the impossible….”

       ~~St. Francis of Assisi~~   

 To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass, click here: https://youtu.be/QvT81VX08O8

   Canticle of Fellowship.docx                

Edited by Father Michael
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