2012-07-01, 13th B, Imperishable

Homily 07-01-12
Thirteenth Sunday Ord, B
Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24; Ps 30:2-13; 2Cor 8:7,9,13-15; Mk 5:21-43

(Scriptures included after homily)

The author of the Book of Wisdom tells us that “God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living.

When I read that verse, it just made me wonder:  If God created us in the image of His own Nature, and that Nature is all about the imperishability of life, and not about death, then why is the world so obsessed with death?  Why, when I went to the local bookstore this week to find a wholesome, educational gift for my grandson’s birthday, did I have such a hard time finding a toy that was not based on war, killing, monsters, or vindictive competition?  And this was for a 6-year old!  Do we ever think about what we are feeding our children in relation to that old adage that says, “What we eat is what we become?

You see, God does not rejoice in the destruction of the living, and neither should we.  God rejoices in life: from the life of the infant in the womb, to the paraplegic in the nursing home, from the father on the other side of the barbed wire fence, to the couple sitting in the hundred-degree weather at the highway exit.  You see, its not disdain, nor hatred, nor disgust that should be the sentiments of our hearts, but the compassion of God for life.

St. Mark gives us, today, a snapshot of the complexity of Jesus’ ministry as an example of God’s unconditional love for life.  In that picture we could just imagine the crowd surrounding Jesus as He stepped out of that boat.  They were all yelling or chanting His Name, or else moaning in pain.  It can almost give us a headache, just thinking about it.  When out of all that commotion, Jesus chose to accept a single request to help a dying, little girl.

You see, the girl’s father, Jairus, was willing to risk his position and reputation in the synagogue to ask Jesus for help.  And the courage to take that risk stemmed from his unconditional love for the life of his daughter.  Jesus saw that love.  Jesus saw the great faith of this young father, as they began their journey back home.

Then, out of the blue, came an interruption.  Doesn’t it always seem to be the case, that when we’re in the middle of one crisis, something else always pops up?  And how stressed we can get, with that child, or that coworker, or that boss, who interrupted our concentration.  Yet, Jesus didn’t chastise the young lady.  As a matter of fact, like the apostles, we might also wonder: with that huge crowd of sick and needy people pressing in on Jesus, how was it that only one lady was able to be healed by ‘just a touch?’  And how did Jesus sense this one particular person as different from all the others touching him?

You see, even though she had long suffered with a physical disability and was alienated from her community because of it, she was not alienated from God.  She had such a strong relationship with God and faith in Jesus, that she believed, in the very depth of her soul, that ‘just a touch’ could heal her (Mal 3:20 or 4:2).  No one else in the crowd had such strong faith based on God’s love.  They were all, instead, just looking for that “magic cure.”

Jesus knew that since only such strong Faith, only such boundless love for God could extract His healing power in this manner, He had to stop and find that beautiful soul and offer her His blessing, the blessing of God’s imperishable life, even though He was in route to another crisis emergency.

Our lives, in a sense, are just like that journey of Jesus and Jairus.  They begin with a choice.  It’s a choice in which Jesus selects us, out of the crowd, for His baptism.  And in that baptism, even if we are too young to realize it, we touch the hem of His garment for healing.  It’s quite a miraculous healing, because through it we are united in a new and loving relationship with God.  And when that happens, close your eyes, beloved, and listen closely, because all the saints and angels in heaven will be applauding, right there along with us.

Then as we grow in our relationship with God through the nurturing instruction or catechesis of our parents, we will also grow in strength and in union with Him through the graces we receive in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.  And together, we will grow in union with one another to build this great Body of Christ, our Church.  When we finally approach that gate at the end of our journey, we just might find another mob shouting and cursing: “Stay away, she’s already dead!”  But if we kept Jesus at our side and did not abandon Him, He will enter the sanctuary of our souls.  And with a gentle touch and a simple word, talitha koum, arise beloved, we will receive the imperishability of life that Jesus offers us with His death, death to a world, in exchange for life to a Kingdom.

You see, the world that is so obsessed with death, is the world that is already experiencing it.  And that world would like nothing more than to see the rest of us join them.  And that death is their personal choice of alienation from God.

Know, beloved, that the stronger our relationship is with God, the more obvious and more repulsive every aspect of that ‘culture of death‘ will become: from the violence in games, TV and movies, to promiscuity, abortion, and capital punishment, from the oppression of the poor and the abuse of human dignity, to the elimination of religious freedom – right here in our own country – all painted in a pretty little picture, but as deadly as the poisonous thorns piercing the blessed head of Jesus.

As we begin then, little by little, to live those imperishable lives that God had intended for us from the very beginning of time, with Jesus at our side, death will no longer have any power over us, and all that will remain – is LOVE – Jesus’ love for us, God the Father’s love for us and our uncompromised love for one another, forever.

jmp 07-01-12

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Scripture Readings for Mass of 07-01-12
13th Sunday Ordinary Time B

First Reading: Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24

God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying.

For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.  But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13

R.  I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol 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, forever will I give you thanks.
R.

Second Reading:  2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15

Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.  Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.  As it is written: ‘Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.’

Gospel: Mk 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.  One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.  Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”  He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him 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.”

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”  Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.  When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping?  The child is not dead but asleep.”  And they ridiculed him.  Then he put them all out.  He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.  He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”  The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.  At that they were utterly astounded.  He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

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