27Jun June 27, 2021. Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24

All that God does is wholesome, and he intends us to enjoy a blessed immortality

God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal.

God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

Responsorial: from Psalm 30

R./: I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me

I will praise you, O Lord, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit. (R./)

Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing. (R./)

Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me;
O Lord, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever. (R./)

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15

Paul asks his well-off Corinthians to help the Christian poor in Jerusalem

As you excel in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you, so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, so that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

Two cures of Jesus are blended into a single story: the haemorrhaging woman and the daughter of Jairus.

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So Jesus went with him; and a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha kum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


Images and friends of God

1. The Wisdom author takes up a key idea from Genesis, that we were made in the image of God (Gen 1:27.) But whereas Genesis applied the phrase to human existence as such, the Book of Wisdom confines it to a special quality which causes humans to act in a God-like way which makes us “friends of God” (see Wis 7:26-27.) Living as a Friend of God means that we will act towards the world as God acts, seeing it as “good” (Gen 1:10) and therefore being concerned for its welfare rather than being involved in its exploitation. What is stressed in equating the serpent of Genesis 3 with the devil is the necessity of the avoidance of evil in one’s life if one is to be a friend of God. A link can be made from today’s first reading with the evil we are doing to the “world’s created things” in which “no fatal poison can be found” in themselves. If we continue to pollute the world we will have poisoned many of its resources for ever more. How can we then continue to be called friends of the Creator God who “takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living?”

2. Paul would be an asset to any fund-raising programme. His method is simple: first praise, then appeal and lastly threaten. But his principles are valid for all time; we have no right really to what we do not need. Today’s second reading could be used as an appeal to help the disaster areas of the world. As Gandhi said: “I suggest that we are thieves in a way. If I take anything that I do not need for my own immediate use and keep it, I thieve it from somebody else. In India we have got 3,000,000 people having to be satisfied with one meal a day, and that meal consisting of unleavened bread containing no fat in it, and a pinch of salt. You and I have no right to anything that we really have until these three million are clothed and fed better. You and I, who ought to know better, need to adjust our wants so that they may be nursed, fed and clothed.”

3. The miracle stories show Jesus healing either by touch or by a word. Both methods are present in the two miracles of today’s gospel reading but there is a certain poignancy in the touch story as it is not Jesus who consciously touches the woman but she him. The stealth of the woman with the “issue of blood” in trying to touch Jesus without anyone being aware of it was occasioned by the ignorance of those times which considered that a woman in her condition was ritually unclean and anyone she touched was also rendered unclean. The fact that she touched him does not bother Jesus. The remarkable fact of Jesus being able to break through the taboos of his time could provide the basis for a discussion of present day taboos, especially in relation to women, and what they are doing to the human race in general and the Church in particular.


Just the hem of his garment

My presbytery was just across the street from a doctor’s surgery. He had an excellent reputation and people queued up all day long to consult him. One morning there was an urgent knock on my door. When I opened it, the caller said: “Come quickly, Father. A man has just dropped dead on the pavement outside.” Grabbing the sacred oils, I rushed out. Sure enough, a man was lying prostrate on the footpath. I anointed him conditionally, as there may be an interval between real and apparent death. A small group gathered around the body, just a few yards from the door of the surgery. It seemed like a cruel irony. Had he gone these few extra yards, his life might have been saved by the doctor. As I straightened up, I mentioned this to the bystanders. “You have it all wrong, Father,” a woman replied. “He was just on his way out from the surgery.” Whatever the doctor’s advice was, the man took it with him to the grave. Doctors, as they say, bury their mistakes.

In today’s gospel, the woman with the twelve-year-old haemorrhage had undergone long and painful treatment under various doctors, without getting better. Of course, up to quite recently, medicine was fairly primitive. For most of human history people prayed for real miracles to cure their infirmities. In the Middle Ages, death stalked everywhere, not least in plague-ridden cities. Local wars were fairly constant and hygiene unknown. Town and country swarmed with the deformed, the maimed, the crippled and the blind. Death ran riot throughout Europe during the horrific period of the bubonic plague, aptly called the Black Death. Nothing stood between the individual and death except God. The centre of every church was its shrine containing relics of the saints. People flocked to these shrines in search of cures. Many travelled great distances to Rome, the Holy Land, Compostela, believing, like the woman with the haemorrhage, that even touching an important relic might restore them to health. Compostela claimed to have such a relic, no less than the remains of St James, who had watched Christ raise the daughter of Jairus to life. One could hardly come closer to the healing power of Christ than that.

But the world has changed much since then. In our own time cures have been found for almost every ailment. We have all become fervent believers in the “miracles of modern medicine.” Clinics have replaced churches for the stricken. The few relics that have survived seem like embarrassing reminders of our naïve past.

But was it all that naïve to hope for a miracle? Jesus attributed his two miracles to the faith of the seekers. “Your faith has restored you to health,” he told the woman who was cured of her haemorrhage. All that separates us from her is the depth of our faith. Even modern medicine, in spite of all its successes, has rediscovered the importance of the patient’s faith in his cure. Who knows? That man who died outside the surgery door might not have stepped so abruptly into eternity, had his faith in his doctor not faltered. That, like the doctor’s prescription, is a secret he took with him.

Christ can, now as then, cure our sicknesses. All he needs is our faith. Of that, Lourdes is proof, if proof were needed. God does trail his coat in our shabby little world. With a little faith we could find it; with a little courage we could touch it. “Do not be afraid,” he says to us, as he said to Jairus, “only have faith.”


A providential meeting

It often happens that we have it in mind to do something and we go about trying to do it. Then we are interrupted in some way; someone comes along that we were not expecting and holds us up and we don’t get to do what he set out to do at the time we intended to do it. If you are a certain type of person you can get very annoyed by this. You can be there waiting for the person to move on so that you can get back to doing what you think you are supposed to be doing. I can be a bit like that myself at times.

Yet, I have come to appreciate that every encounter is in some way providential. What can seem initially like an interruption can be where we are meant to be. The person who unexpectedly crosses my path and who could be seen as interrupting what I have set out to do, can be one whom the Lord has sent into my life. Rather than seeing the encounter as interrupting something else, it can be better seen as a grace, an opportunity. What I set out to do may not be what is most important. Rather, the call of the present moment may be what really matters, the person who stands before me here and now.

I was reminded of all that by today’s gospel encounter. One of the synagogue officials, Jairus, pleaded with Jesus to come to his daughter who was desperately sick. Jesus set out with him on this very important journey. On the way to the house of Jairus, Jesus had an encounter with a woman, which delayed him. It took up precious time. Yet, Jesus did not react angrily or dismissively to this interruption. Indeed, the contrary was the case. The woman with the flow of blood simply wanted to touch the clothing of Jesus, without holding him up in any way. It was Jesus who ensured that the fleeting encounter that the woman was looking for became, in reality, a truly personal encounter, a real meeting between two human beings. When Jesus noticed that power had gone out of him because of the woman touching his clothing, he stopped, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothing?’ He wanted to meet this woman, in spite of the urgency of the journey on which he had set out. Eventually the woman came forward, frightened and trembling, not knowing what to expect. Jesus addressed her in very tender terms, ‘My daughter’, he said, ‘your faith has restored you to health.’ He engaged her in a very personal way; he called her into a personal relationship with him. This was the task of the moment. Some people would have seen this encounter as an unfortunate interruption; as a result of the delay Jairus’ daughter had died before Jesus could get to the house. Yet, for Jesus this encounter with the woman was of ultimate significance; it was a moment of grace. It was the prelude to an even more wonderful moment of grace in the house of Jairus when Jesus not only healed the very sick girl as he was asked to do, but raised him from the dead.

The gospel encourages us to pay attention to the interruptions in life. What can seem like distractions can be where the Lord is calling us to be. When our plans do not work out as we wanted because of some unexpected turn of events, it may not be the disaster that we think it is at the time. Sometimes when our plans do not work out, it can create the space for something else to happen that we did not plan but which, in itself, can have great value for ourselves and for others. In the story we have just heard, Jesus gave himself fully to the interruption. He could have kept walking when the woman touched his clothing, but he attended to her. That was the call of the present moment for Jesus. In answering that call, he was doing God’s work, and the task he initially set out to accomplish did not suffer. Jairus had his daughter restored to him. There are times in life when we need to embrace the interruptions, rather than just driving on with our head down towards the goal we have set for ourselves. We can misjudge where the real work lies. We often need to come to a deeper appreciation that the interruptions are our work, especially when they involve responding with compassion to the needs of others. When we set out on a journey, what happens on the way can be more important than arriving at our destination.


 

5 Responses

  1. Soline Humbert

    13th Sunday in ordinary time: breaking through present day taboos in relation to women in the church.
    https://www.catholicwomenpreach.org/preaching/06272021

  2. Thara Benedicta

    Key Message:
    Faith produces miracles!!

    Homily:

    Takeaway from First Reading:
    We used to discuss in our catechism classes during our school days, what would have happened if Adam and Eve had not eaten the apple. Then no one would die as God did not create it. Only births and not deaths!! Like in heaven where we have only entry and no exits!! Like in the Bible, where the Apostle Paul talks about the third heaven, the earth also would have been heaven – with God coming and chatting with us in the cool of the day. All of us will be one big family with Adam and Eve as our eldest Grandpa and Grandma!! In our life on earth, we would have been talking to God’s face to face!!
    In reality, when Adam and Eve ate the apple too, God still came down to the world as ‘Jesus’. God talked, cooked delicious fish, ate with us, slept in a fishing boat, paid taxes to the Government (St. Peter took the money from the mouth of fish and paid on behalf of Jesus), woke up early in the morning and prayed, was obedient to His earthly parents, sang, cried, petted little kids, was imprisoned, died like a criminal hanging on the cross and was buried.
    God is now living within us as the Holy Spirit.

    Either as God the Father or Jesus the Son or the Holy Spirit, God is always with us forever.

    Takeaway from Second Reading:

    In the Bible we read that God promises to bless abundantly, multiple fold, whenever we give generously to Him and to His people.
    In Luke 6-38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
    In Malachi 3:10: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” – Malachi 3:10
    We think sometimes that instead of tithing we can save the money or we can use it for something else. All of us would have been tempted to use our tithe for something else, but we should resist the temptation. Our God is a God of abundance as we read from the above verses.
    God’s generosity principle from the above verses – we give more, we get more!!
    Let us ask God to be generous like Him.
    God is our source of financial blessings too. The returns that God will provide will be much better than the profit we get from any other investment. Even if we get the same salary, the same salary we get will work great wonders when we first give to God. We have heard about the founder of Colgate toothpaste, Mr. William Colgate. As he increased his tithe to God, his profit margin kept increasing.

    The takeaway from Gospel Reading:

    Woman in the crowd getting cured:
    The most interesting fact here is all the other miracles were initiated by Jesus voluntarily. But here we find that after the miracle Jesus was trying to find out who was the person He had cured.
    God teaches us in this story that He will restore the health of anyone who approaches Him with confidence.
    The woman in the story had remarkable faith and she did what she needed to do. She did not just follow Jesus but she pushed herself through the crowd. Then she determined in her mind, even touching His cloth would cure her.

    Challenges she faced:

    1. The woman was shy to share her problem. Since she could not openly talk out her problem in front of others to Jesus, she would have been wondering how to tell Jesus of her issue.
    2. There was no one else to plead for her to Jesus. She was fighting her problem all alone.
    3. There was no way she could reach Jesus too. She pushed her way through the crowd to touch His garment.

    She got cured, even without telling her problem.
    She was a fighter who grabs the first opportunity. She did not allow thoughts of worry or self-pity to fill her mind. She filled her mind only with the power and miracles of Jesus. She fought her sickness, helplessness, loneliness and shyness all with her single-minded faith. Though the crowd was too much for her to reach Jesus and though she could not vocally express her issue to Jesus, it did not hamper her from proceeding forward, she only focussed on touching the hem of His garment to get cured.
    Jesus loves the faith with focus!!

    Self-introspection:

    1. When we undergo any challenge, do we give way to thoughts of self-pity, worry, and fear, or do we think about our Lord Jesus and all the goodness He has done in our lives and increase our faith in Him?

    2. Are we praying to God with faith but not doing all that our challenge demands us to do?

    The little girl getting cured:

    1. Jesus ignored the statements that the child is dead. When in difficult situations, He did not care to convince the people who are saying the demotivating words but went ahead with the plans to cure the child. Are we ignoring the demotivating words from others or are we spending our energy unnecessarily to convince them?

    2. Jesus cured the centurion’s servant by the power of His word without going to his house. But Jesus had to go to Jairus’s house to bring his daughter back to life. What was the difference? The difference was in the measure of faith. The Centurion had the higher measure of faith to work out the miracle just by His word.

    3. The woman, centurion, Jairus – all needed a miracle from Jesus.
    Jesus cured the little girl by going to the house of Jairus and visiting the girl.
    Jesus cured the centurion’s servant by His word.
    Jesus did not do anything to cure the woman. As Jesus said, her faith in Jesus healed her.
    Faith brings power to prayer.

    4. Jesus was not able to do many miracles in his native place because of the lack of faith. This shows that God Himself is not able to work out miracles when there is a lack of faith.

    5. Jesus did not allow the girl’s father, Jairus, to lose his belief when people told him that his daughter was dead. He says, “Do not fear, only believe”.

    When we face challenges in our life, like poverty, peer pressure, bringing up special children, dealing with difficult people, sickness, confusion, or any other challenge instead of worrying about how difficult the challenge is, let us look at the face of Jesus and only believe in Him.
    If our thoughts wander on how to bring the solutions though we have done everything from our end, let us surrender ourselves to Jesus; ‘My dear Jesus, Where else will I go? Since you are my elder brother, I know that You will surely take care of all my problems. I will be peaceful and not worry anymore’.

    In any challenge, do we fear or believe?

  3. Charles Nzasibenvo Nyameh

    The homily is so scriptural and contextual to our day-to-day realities. May God bless and sustain all those who worked on this homily in order to share it with others.

  4. Joe O'Leary

    Yesterday I fell on glass and gashed my knee at a birthday party, and was touched by the promptness and efficiency of the first responders: the birthday boy, American-Japanese, summoned the ambulance, a Congolese seminarian stanched the wound, and a Danish lecturer accompanied me in the ambulance, all spontaneously overflowing with kindness. The female doctor who did the stitches so smoothly and the male nurse who had the same birthday as me, but 43 years later, added to this abundance of healing touch. And today’s readings tell of the abundance of the divine touch. When Jesus looks for the woman in the crowd, it is not out of curiosity or to scold her, but to follow up on the treatment, adding a word of encouragement to the magic of his touch, and in the house of Jairus he shows the same practical aplomb as a good doctor. The Incarnation is not a vision or a hearing only but a symphony of touch. It reveals a God who is the fount of life, being, mercy, and fulness of redemption, and who assures us that “all will be well and all manner of things will be well” (Julian of Norwich), for “the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them.”

    But many are deprived of the blessings of care, and are met by coldness and abuse, not kindness, and there are wicked uses of touch by torturers and other bullies. Paul sees this and wants to redress the balance: “it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need,” so that a humane world will by created, in which “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

    See the very timely book “Touch” by Richard Kearney.

  5. Paddy Ferry

    Sunday 27th of June.

    At Mass in our parish this evening we had an excellent homily from a man who has spent much of his priesthood ministering to native Indians in Latin America, Fr. Henry, a Mayo man with some Donegal blood too, I think.
    He used today’s Gospel to recall how “bleeding” made women “untouchable” in Southern Mexico where he once ministered.

    Am I correct in thinking ( Soline) that that same “bleeding” was the reason why women, until relatively recently, were not allowed in the sanctuary — inside the altar rails — in our Catholic churches. Are the Greeks to blame for that too?