Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Pete Iorio
June 27, 2021 - 11:00 AM
We find much tenderness in today's Gospel that speaks of Jesus' compassion for the little ones of the earth. We see Jesus face to face with suffering and death. The words of Wisdom from the first reading are so important: "God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living." The heart of Jesus is moved by the suffering of others, and he allows himself to be the healing power of his Father. Jesus is always on the side of life, and of the fullness of life.
Jesus does not go where the sin is so that he can correct it, but he is going to where the suffering is. Jesus, the Son of God, demonstrates that God cares about human suffering. The false attitude that some people have is: Put up with suffering and you will get rewarded in heaven. NO! God is concerned with human suffering now and wants to alleviate it. We have the beautiful sacrament of the anointing of the sick, not the “last rites“ which was reserved for near death. God wants to heal us here and now in our present condition.
The Jesus we see in today's Gospel is a Jesus who takes people's needs as the standard for his behavior. He is not limited by the prohibitions of religion which said in his time that a man could not speak publicly with a woman, and with a woman excluded from society because of her illness. Also, Jesus took the girl by the hand, although the law prohibited touching a dead body. The important thing for Jesus was not the law, but the need of the person.
There is a story within two parts of a related story. Both are about healing and the faith of the main characters: Jairus and the woman. Scripture scholars call this technique of Mark a sandwich or technically, an intercalation. (There will not be a quiz on this at the end of Mass.) The two pieces of bread are on the outside and the meat is in the middle. Ultimately, the core message is that Jesus isn't too concerned if you do everything by the book (as Jairus did) or if your life is a total mess (as the woman's was). Each got the same healing from Jesus. The traits that both had was their faith in Jesus.
Jesus does not heal her. She heals herself by taking the initiative and touching him. “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Faith is trust from our side, not magic from God’s side. Reality in spite of all its suffering, can be trusted. Reality is good. God love is on your side. This is foundational trust/faith.
Some people have a massive mistrust of almost everything. You cannot mistrust everything and say that you trust God. It is all one trust. If you have a cynical attitude toward life, like believing in conspiracy theories, you, I am sorry to say, have a cynical attitude toward God. How you do anything is how you do everything! Life is all one.
After the woman is healed of her hemorrhage, Jesus returns to Jairus. He makes a statement for which he is ridiculed. “The child is not dead but asleep.” Death is not final. My favorite part of our Catholic funeral liturgy is in the preface (Before the Eucharistic prayer) number one: Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended. What that tells us is not even to be afraid of dying or if your loved one is already dead not to fear for them. Trust that death is part of reality.
Great quote from Pauli Murray in one of my meditation books:
Salvation is feeling safe, living without fear, confident that we will always be safe whatever happens, in life or in death, if we have a complete and childlike trust in God’s love and tender mercy. Salvation does not mean that we will avoid suffering, shame, humiliation, or defeat. It means we are not alone – God’s love, which was poured out for us in Jesus Christ, is always with us, to strengthen and save us in every situation, if we have trust in his love.
What Jesus said to Jairus, he says to us. “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”