13th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 27 June 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Wisdom1:13-15, 23-24; Responsorial: Psalm 30; II: II Corinthians 8: 7, 9, 13-15; Gospel: Mark 5: 21-43
We have lived through a prolonged and difficult time of great sickness with the pandemic. Intense afflictions have infected the social, political, moral, and spiritual health of creation. The suffering, the losses have been very real. But we must remember, with Christ we find hope, we find, healing. The Scripture readings we share are messages of that hope, messages, and lessons of healing for anyone afflicted in spirit, soul, or body. We are urged to realize we are called for healing, by God, and with God.
Yet this call to healing seems challenged by the seeming conflict expressed by our first reading from the Book of Wisdom where the harsh reality of death and its source, in evil, are shared. The Book of Hebrews speaks of the same painful truth in telling us “all are appointed once to die and after that, the judgment”, Hebrews 9:27. It is vital to realize, that with Christ, death is but the final gateway to eternal life and the ultimate fullness of healing we find with our Savior.
But the Gospel today is clear. We are called for healing, by and with God. In this account in Mark’s Gospel we read of Jairus frantically coming to Jesus seeking healing for his young daughter. By all indications she is critically ill. Her father, a leader in the local synagogue, in intense and desperate faith seeks that Jesus would but come and lay his hand upon his beloved child. How encouraged Jairus must have been as Jesus came with him back to his home and the sickbed of his little girl. But his prayers were interrupted.
While enroute to the house, with a great crowd pressing in and following to witness the drama, a woman, sick for over a decade comes as well. Her exhausted faith believes if she can but touch the hem of the cloak Jesus was wearing she would be healed. Pressing through the crowd she succeeds. Coming from behind she touches his cloak. She knows, at once she is healed. And Christ realizes, at once, grace, power have flowed from his Body. To the dismay of Jairus, Jesus stops and seeks who has touched his cloak, in such faith. It is worthwhile to note the reaction of his disciples. People are pressing in upon Jesus from all sides. They wonder and question…Jesus, don’t you realize what is going on? What follows is a powerful part of our call to healing.
The woman realizes she is caught. In fear and trembling, she falls down before Jesus and confesses the whole truth. This is a poignant reminder that often healing involves great courage and humility. This woman, by the standards of the Law and Hebrew people, was unclean. Her issue of blood excluded her from close contact with others and especially someone like Jairus, as a leader of the synagogue. She was, as it were, deemed unacceptable to seek or receive the healing and graces of God without proper following of the liturgy of that day. Her fear was well-founded. But she shows us courage, faith often cannot be fully experienced except in the face of great need and fear. Jesus speaks. He commends her faith and affirms her healing with the blessing to go in peace. Great is the healing. Great is God’s blessing.
And great must have been the heartache of Jairus as he watches this delay. So often we fail to realize our prayers are not shared in a singular dimension. Our faith, our prayers are a part of a much larger environment of petition and praise to God, shared by many. We are reminded delay is not necessarily denial. Jairus, Jesus, the disciples, with the crowd once again press on to the sick little girl. But in the eyes of the world, it is too late.
Before arriving at the home of Jairus they are confronted by mourners. The little girl has died. But Jesus tells Jairus, “Do not fear. Believe!” In the house Christ makes the doubters, the mourners leave. He takes the father and mother, with Peter, James, and John, and goes to the girl. He takes her by the hand and calls for her to arise. She is healed. God, has again, called out to, and for healing.
There are some vital elements to this lesson from Christ. First Jesus, the Living Word, speaks, calls us for healing. Even in the Gospels when Jesus is rebuking sins He speaks and shares in the Spirit of hope and healing. The Gospel, “the Good News” is meant to be words of hope and healing. Secondly, it was the hand, the Body, even the cloak upon His Body, that brought healing. In His holy and sacred incarnation, Jesus came to deliver and heal His creation, His creatures. The Body, the Blood of Jesus, His most sacred and Holy Real Presence is intended to be a place of healing…of hope. As our Gospel today affirms, this is for the well-placed, the faithful. And it is for the unclean, the frightened, those on the fringes of humanity. This does not just apply to the incarnate Presence of Jesus in the Gospels. This sacred Truth applies to the Body of Christ today, perhaps now more than ever.
The Epistle today seems out of context, at a glance. St. Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church and to you and me. The message is essentially of the self-emptying, the kenosis of Jesus. Paul proceeds that this same emptying of self and selfishness is the call of God for all the people of Christ, the Body of Christ. We are called for healing, by God and with God.
Great is our own need of healing. As we listen to Christ, His holy Word, and as we allow His Real Presence, His Body and Blood to touch us we shall be healed for and in the will and designs of our heavenly Father. But the healing is never meant to end there. We are called to be healing, WITH God. Do our Words proclaim the hope, the healing, the faith that brings others to know Christ? Do we act and live, as individuals and as the people of God witnessing to the truth that we are the Body of Christ? Do our words and our hands bring hope and healing to the many wounded and damaged by this world? Do we allow our lives to be interrupted for the moments of grace when Jesus wants to help someone through us? Or do we focus on the sickness, the wounds, the perceived unworthiness of those in our world?
May we, together, realize and live, as the Body of Christ, for holy healing, by and with God.