Life on the Chrism Trail

Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 27, 2021
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Seymour, Texas

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Mark 5:21-43

Today’s Gospel records two miracles.  While Jesus is in route to visit the dying daughter of a synagogue official, a woman touches His cloak.  She had suffered for twelve years, exhausting all her money on doctors who were unable to help her.  She is in the same category as a leper, an outcast from the community, and in her desperation, she will try anything that offers her hope.  Her physical illness is also symbolic of the effect of evil and sin on the entire human person — body and soul.

This woman came at Jesus unnoticed, from behind, since if people saw her, they would have driven her away because of her uncleanness.  When she touches Jesus, she is healed.  Feeling power leave Him, He abruptly turns around to locate the culprit.  What surprises us is Jesus’ reaction, which we do not see anywhere else in the Gospels.  In the healing miracles, we do not think of power leaving Jesus… that the miracles affected Him.  However, when the woman admits that she touched Jesus, He tells her that her faith was the cause of her cure.  She recognizes that her healing requires a generous response on her part to change her previous ways, to be converted.

The second miracle is more dramatic.  The home of Jairus is full of people crying and lamenting the death of a girl who had lived as long as the woman in the first story had suffered.  Jesus empties the house, except for the child’s father and mother and Jesus’ companions.  With a word he invites the girl to get up, and she does.  We understand the relief of her grieving parents, and we also know, after hearing of the first miracle, that the trusting faith of this mother and father played a part in bringing their daughter back to life.  Jesus does not restore life just to an individual, but to an individual person in a family and with friends; He restores a sense of life to Jairus and his wife and their friends who have come to make a ruckus in their grief.

Each of these miracles involve the intervention of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God against the power of evil and sin over the human body.  Jesus heals the woman with the hemorrhage and returns her to inclusion in the community.  Her faith sees beyond the confines of physical limitations and even beyond the limitations of the current events of this world to see the Divine and human identity of Jesus Christ, who is more than a carpenter, more than a teacher or philosopher, more than a miracle worker.  He has authority over the spiritual realm and also over the physical realm — especially as He is the Word Incarnate.

According to the Book of Wisdom, it is the envy of the devil that stifles our faith.  A particular envy of the devil directed at human beings is that, unlike angelic powers, human beings have bodies and share in God’s creative power through procreation. This comes about through the marital love of husband and wife bringing about the relationship of father and mother with a son or a daughter.  In his envy, the devil works on us to draw us away from God, to deny our bodies, and to see God as a distant and adversarial spirit for whom we should have suspicion. 

By sinning, we place ourselves ahead of God and our neighbor.  Sin blinds us to the good of our creation and the good that we can do.  Sin prevents the grace of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, and without the Spirit’s grace our faith is powerless, and we actively resist the love of God.  A miracle is simply the Holy Spirit acting through us to transform situations to become in accord with God’s plan, and for that we need to embrace Christ and to trust that Christ is alive in us.  Today’s Gospel invites us to join in the faith of the incurable woman and the father and mother of a dead girl to trust the power of the Holy Spirit, the loving power Jesus has given us to transform the world.

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