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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

THIRTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

The Gospel story for this Sunday tells us about the woman with the haemorrhage and the Synagogue official Jairus who pleaded with Jesus to come because his daughter was sick. As we know the woman and the Child were both cured. Today’s readings reinforce for us the undeniable reality that suffering is not unique to us or to our times, and that if the truth be told we know very little about the ultimate meaning of death as no one has ever come back to tell us where they have gone. Wars, hunger, economic disasters abound and bring us to despair; personal illness, pain, and loss in our families sometimes cause us to lose hope. Often times we feel as if we are alone in our pain; and as a result of this perceived loneliness we ask, Why me? There is so much fear around and about in our country and in the world today: fear of “the other person,” fear of losing a job and not being able to pay the mortgage and look after our families, fear of crazy people with guns, fear of not succeeding, oh, so many fears and perhaps not enough of the old reliable that is FAITH.

People in desperate or helpless circumstances were not disappointed when they sought Jesus out and we are not disappointed when we seek Jesus as well. What drew them to Jesus? Was it hope for a miracle or a word of comfort in their affliction? What did the woman who had suffered greatly for twelve years expect Jesus to do for her? And what did a grieving father expect Jesus to do about his beloved daughter who had died?  It was the same for them as it is for us today Jesus gave hope where there seemed to be no human cause for it because his hope was based in and directed to God. He spoke words of hope to the woman (Take heart, daughter!) to ignite the spark of faith in her (your faith has made you well go in peace!).A 4th century church father, Ephrem the Syrian, comments on this miracle:

“Glory to you, hidden Son of God, because your healing power is proclaimed through the hidden suffering of the afflicted woman. Through this woman whom they could see, the witnesses were enabled to behold the divinity that cannot be seen. Through the Son’s own healing power his divinity became known. Through the afflicted women’s healing her faith was made manifest. She caused him to be proclaimed, and indeed was honoured with him.

For truth was being proclaimed together with its heralds. If she was a witness to his divinity, he in turn was a witness to her faith…He saw through to her hidden faith, and gave her a visible healing.” Jesus also gave divine hope to a father who had just lost a beloved child. It took considerable courage and risk for the ruler of a synagogue to openly go to Jesus and to invite the scorn of his neighbours and kin. Even the hired mourners laughed at him in scorn. Their grief was devoid of any hope. Nonetheless, Jesus took the girl by the hand and delivered her from the grasp of death. Peter Chrysologus, a 5th century church father comments on this miracle: “This man was a ruler of the synagogue, and versed in the law. He trusted therefore in God that his daughter would be restored to life by that same hand which, he knew, had created her…He who laid hands on her to form her from nothing, once more lays hands upon her to reform her from what had perished.” In both instances we see Jesus’ personal concern for the needs of others and his readiness to heal and restore life. In Jesus we see the infinite love of God extending to each and every individual as he gives freely and wholly of himself to each  person he meets.

Every Sunday is a little ‘Easter Sunday’: because Jesus rose on Sunday, triumphant over death, we gather on Sundays. We gather to rejoice and celebrate his meal, the Eucharist: he died, yet he lives, he has departed from us, yet also he is here among us. To celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead is to celebrate that in him is our victory over suffering, pain, and death itself. In proclaiming that the Father raised Jesus from the dead, we are stating and restating our conviction that all those parts of life and living that strike us as annoying  and destructive are not part of the Father’s will for us:

Let us bring all our many fears and worries to god our Father through Jesus his Son who gives us hope and healing in our daily lives and living. May we be like the Woman with the haemorrhage and Jairus the Synagogue official who had faith and hope in their Hard times.

“Lord Jesus, you love each of us individually

with a unique and personal love.

Touch our lives with your saving power,

heal and restore us  to fullness of life.

And help us in our present hard times to

keep on going in faith and hope.

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