1. -- Lanie
2. -- Carol &
3. -- Brian
4. -- Paul
reflection can be here!)
Sun. 13 B
In today's Gospel according to Mark, we read/hear about
the healing of the synagogue official's daughter and the
healing of the woman chronically afflicted by a hemorrhage.
These stories of Jesus's healings are familiar to us. While
these are certainly stories of great faith in Jesus, they
also tell us something important about Jesus and give us
some direction in our lives.
Both of the people who approached Jesus were desperate.
They faced hopeless situations. Jesus recognized their
situations and was more than willing to help each of them.
He did so by allowing a ritually "unclean woman" to touch
him and also by touching a child who was "dead", and
therefore, also "unclean". His love and care for the people,
regardless of the consequences for himself, provide a
striking example for us.
I have spent the past week as a volunteer at my parish's
Vacation Bible Camp where over 100 children, plus scores of
middle and high school aides and adults had a wonderful time
learning about Jesus. We learned that "Jesus rescues" us
when we are lonely, worried, struggling, done something
wrong, or feel powerless. Those feelings and scenarios cover
a wide range of what people in today's world, children and
adults alike, experience over and over again. Yes, Jesus
still rescues us, not always by taking away the problem as
in these Scripture stories and others, but by being with us
throughout the problem and helping us to find others that
might carry or lift some of the burden of those situations.
I can probably rattle off a fairly long list of people
who need Jesus's immediate touch today, several of whom live
on the fringes of society. You can probably do so also. If
not, then a quick look at the news can add to your prayer
list rather quickly. Jesus's touch still needs to be felt in
all corners of our society today, from deep within our own
hearts to those places mentioned on headline news. We,
Jesus's followers, can be among those who are willing to
step forward, pray, and then DO something to help someone
who feels abandoned and hopeless. What can and will you DO,
in Jesus's name, to help rescue someone?
Dr. Lanie LeBlanc
Thirteenth Sunday of Ordered Time July 1 2018
Wisdom 1:13- 15 & 2:23-24; Responsorial Psalm 30; 2nd
Corinthians 8:7 & 9 & 13-15; Gospel Acclamation 2nd Timothy
1:10; Mark 5:21-43
The book of Wisdom is often difficult to accept because
it seems to contradict our experience. "God is not a god of
death, but of life." If God is not a god of death, then how
come there is so much pain and suffering in the world? It
often seems we are victims of nature, of illness and
disability, of the efforts of others to gain power, wealth,
or status. How is it that we are crushed by gossip and
calumny regarding our reputation? How is it that we suffer
from cancer, undefined maladies, and incurable diseases? Why
is nature which God describes as good becoming more and more
violent and threatening to property and lives? Are we more
focused on the hope of science to cure us than for an
understanding of why God allows such evil to crush us and
render our lives meaningless? So Wisdom insists in this
Sunday’s reading "God is not a god of death, but of life."
How do we un-pack the depth of faith contained in this
ancient quote from the Hebrew Scriptures? Isn’t death the
ultimate end to a future? Doesn’t death rob our human spirit
of the vitality that comes from hope? Theologian Cardinal
Walter Kasper writes in his book An Introduction to
Christian Faith, "Absolute future-less-ness is the very
nature of death." Yet Kasper insists faith is what makes
hope possible. And hope is always future.
In Mark’s Gospel this week end, we observe two stories of
faith. In the first story a woman suffering for twelve years
with hemorrhaging has fallen into future-less-ness. She
sought relief from medical professionals who failed to cure
her. Literally they made her condition worse by taking all
her resources in payment for their ineffective services. She
could have no future because she was isolated by her
disease. Flows of blood in the culture of Judaism made her
unclean and unfit to participate in social and religious
activities of the community. She was alone, isolated,
unwelcomed, uncared for, and scorned as a victim of her own
sinfulness. Disease and death itself were – and sometimes
still are -- considered evidence of the sins of the one
suffering. We might note that Jesus put this falsehood to
rest by his suffering and death and his resurrection! Her
faith was a belief in the magical power of this healer.
Jesus asks, "Who touched me?" His disciples didn’t
understand his question and thought it silly. They were
surrounded by a crowd pushing in on all sides to catch a
glimpse of this miracle worker, this preacher with strange
words that touched many hearts. Were there none in the crowd
who suffered like this woman? Why is she the only one cured?
The woman is frightened at her boldness and overwhelmed by
what she knows has happened. She is healed and will be
welcomed back into community. She had been rejected by her
community because of her uncleanness. Now she can find
shelter and welcome in a necessary community. Jesus tells
her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be
cured of your affliction." What is she saved from? What is
she saved for? Why does he call her "daughter?"
The trouble with words is that they lose their meaning
and power from over-use. We use words like children who
parrot the words of parents speaking words without
understanding, often to the embarassment of parents. Words
become a code that arouses an emotional response. We nod our
heads in agreement or in anger or in respect. We should take
a look at this word "saved" and get into the depth of what
it means. What is this "saved" of which Jesus talks? If we
ask, "What is this woman saved from," we’ll quickly respond
that she is saved from the sickness that caused the flow of
blood. Such a simple understanding misses the point of this
story in Mark. This woman dares to be in a crowd following
Jesus. Yet by the cultural law of the Jews she is not
permitted to be among people. She is unclean and anyone who
is with her becomes unclean as well. To be unclean is to be
isolated, to be alone, to lack the support and social
interaction of the Community in worship, in economic
endeavors, and in social gatherings. Being truly alone is a
frightening condition. There is discussion among
psychologists and sociologists about the cruel and unusual
punishment of solitary confinement. Isolation destroys what
is human in us making rehabilitation impossible. This woman
suffered from more than physical pain and discomfort. She
suffered in her very spirit and had gone hopeless.
If we look at this woman from a theology perspective, we
remember the insistent message of humanity’s creation in
Genesis. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
… God created man in his image; in the divine image he
created him: male and female he created them." How often we
read this narrative and think, "oh, that’s nice. God created
men." And when we do we fall into the trap of missing the
point of the narrative. The key thought is that humanity,
male AND female, are created in the divine image, after
God’s likeness. That likeness, that image is in truth a
revelation of what God is. It is not by chance that the word
used of God’s speaking is "let US". God is a community and
because God is a community we also are created to be a
community of persons. When we are individually isolated from
Community because of our choices, because of illness,
because of social or religious bigotry, we are denied that
which makes us different from animals, from birds of the
air, from fish in the seas, and from vegetation and rocks
and soil. When we deny ourselves or have our humanity
denied, we suffer. We suffer as this woman did from
isolation. That suffering hurts and robs our existence of
vitality and fullness of life.
But let’s not stop with this cured, returned-to-society
woman. If we look to the beginning of Mark chapter five we
read the narrative of the exorcism of the legion of evil
spirits that claimed and destroyed the Divine Image and
Likeness of the Creator in the Demoniac of Gerasene. This
legion of evil spirits corresponds to the many and various
evil movements that rob humanity of its freedom. When we are
controlled by passion, by violence, by hatred, by bigotry,
by denial of the humanity of others: when we deny dignity
and worth to God’s creation of humanity, when we deny the
wonder of God’s creation of animals, of birds, of fishes, of
the order of the waters in the heavens, on the earth, and
under the earth we are possessed by evil spirits. When we
accept the rantings of demagogues who pit persons against
persons for power, we take into our hearts the evil spirits
who robbed the Gerasene man of his freedom to live in the
Divine image and likeness. When we become possessed by evil
our freedom as children of God is stolen from us. In the
narrative of the woman with the hemorrhage Jesus calls her
"daughter." Jesus recognizes her as a child of God, one who
shares in the image and likeness of the Father-God the
Creator. That is the source of her worth which cannot be
rescinded by illness.
In the last part of this Sunday’s gospel we hear the
story of Jairus’ daughter. While the Pharisees and the
Sadducees and the religious leadership of the Jews worked
mightily to discredit Jesus, Jairus, the leader of the local
synagogue comes to Jesus for help. He sought help to restore
the health of his daughter. While we have made great strides
in curing disease and illness, while we have found ways of
mitigating the effects of disability, while we have achieved
longer life for many – we ultimately must continue to face
the uncertainty of dying. What is it like to die? What
happens to my consciousness? Does it hurt? Where do I go?
It’s a process for which we cannot practice. We get one shot
at it and there is no do-over button to mash.
If we take these three stories as one lesson we find
three anxieties, fears that threaten our peace of mind and
destroy hope. In the story of the man possessed by the
legion of evil spirits, we see the fragility of our
personalities. We can easily be tricked into thoughts,
attitudes, and practices that threaten the truth of our
Divine Image and Likeness. When we are isolated because of
prejudice, because of illness, because of the evil actions
of others, we long for and unceasingly struggle to find
community, a place where we belong, a place where we are
needed, a place where our dignity and worth is accepted.
When we consider our ultimate and final days of life on
earth, we are fearful and wonder how it is, how it works,
where we go, is there a continuation of living? What would
that continuation be like?
We cannot forget the words of our first reading. "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."
When death entered the world through the free-will
choices of humanity, God began immediately to work with us
to overcome that which addicts and leads to violence and
rejection of the joys of living. This is the story of the
man possessed. When we are isolated from others, God creates
a community, a COMMUNION that forms us into the One Body of
the Lord. The faith by which we are joined into Community
brings us to the Table of the Lord for nourishment and for
healing. And when death itself comes to us, God uses that to
allow us the possibility of eternal life. The standards by
which we are chosen for an eternity of Community, of Joy, of
Peace, and of delight are clearly stated in Matthew’s
gospel, chapter 25. "Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of
the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was
thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed
me,, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in
prison and you visited me."
The message this Sunday is that God does not wish us or
give us pain, death, or isolation. We come together in
Community. Our model is the Trinity. Just as the Divine
Transcendent One is a community of three persons in one God,
so also we are intended to be one people, one creation in
the unity of God’s love for and through us to others. God
loves us. That is the bottom line of the readings this
Sunday. That is why we respond to the first reading in the
people’s response: "I will praise you, Lord, for you have
rescued me." When we think on these revelations from God, we
must certainly rejoice in the Lord.
These three stories in chapter five of Mark make even
more sense if we look to the end of Mark’s chapter four. In
that narrative we see Jesus calming the storming seas which
threaten to destroy the boat taking the disciples across the
Sea of Galilee. Even the threats of nature incomplete and
out of order are mitigated by God’s presence. Even the
uncertainties of nature discover a future of hope in our
faith. It is God’s will that we have life and have it
abundantly. God’s presence and our faith in his Loving
Kindness make it possible to live life fully and to grow
into life eternal in His Presence. May it be ever so for us
as individual persons and as God’s people!
Carol & Dennis Keller
DESPERATE SEEKERS AND BELIEVERS: 13TH SUNDAY B
Along the road of life we become aware of many
desperately-seeking persons. How do they deal with their
desperation? Over and over again we have learned of asylum
seekers e.g., so desperate to escape from poverty and
persecution that they risk their lives by paying
people-smugglers and climbing into overcrowded leaky boats
heading for lands of freedom and opportunity. So they are
seeking something good for themselves and their families.
But another group are hell-bent on seeking hurt and harm to
others. For instance, not so long ago an Australian sporting
hero got so fed-up with his marriage, that he went to the
races, boozed all day, came home drunk and angry to his wife
and children, and there before their eyes set about wrecking
their home and furniture, including his wife’s most precious
In the gospel today we meet both a man and a woman in two
situations of such acute personal pain that they desperately
seek from the great person of Jesus, life, hope and healing.
Jairus, the synagogue official and loving father of a
‘desperately sick’ twelve-year old daughter, is convinced
that if only Jesus would place his hands on her ‘to make her
better and save her life’ she would surely recover. The
unnamed woman, suffering for twelve years from a
gynaecological condition for which she has spent her
life-savings on one doctor after another, has one last hope.
She is convinced that ‘if she can touch even his clothes’,
she will surely ‘be well again’.
The very moment this suffering and faith-filled woman
touches the clothes of Jesus, she senses that she is cured
of her condition. But Jesus does not let her just slink away
anonymously into the crowd. He wants to meet the whole
person, not just her ailment. Neither does he want to be
treated like a magician or a mobile relic Turning right
around he asks, ‘Who touched my clothes?’. His question and
his look bring the woman forward. Trembling with fear, she
falls at his feet and tells him the whole truth. Jesus has
insisted on meeting her face-to-face, not to humiliate her,
but to praise her for her faith and to send her on her way
feeling mightily relieved and at peace.
While Jesus is still speaking, messengers come to tell
Jairus that his beloved daughter has died. Jesus overhears
this, and immediately says to this grieving father, ‘Don’t
be afraid; only have faith.’ Taking with him his inner
circle of disciples - Peter, James and John - Jesus goes
into the house where he encounters mourners weeping and
wailing at the top of their voices. When he tells them that
the child is not dead but asleep, their mourning turns to
mockery. They are no help at all. So he throws them out.
Then, accompanied by the child’s mother and father and his
three close friends, Jesus goes into the child’s room.
Supported by this little community of faith, Jesus takes her
by the hand, and prompts her to rise up. When she does so he
adds the kind and touching words: ‘Give her something to
It’s worth dwelling on the details of Mark’s two stories
because they give us valuable insight into the character of
Jesus. They tell us of someone who feels acutely the
desperate pain of others, and who does not disappoint those
who approach him for help. There are mothers and fathers
e.g., who keep grieving for their dead children long after
others have forgotten or have moved on. To Jesus these
children are just as precious as the daughter of Jairus. As
the Risen Lord he will come to awaken them. We firmly
believe that. That’s why Jesus keeps saying, ‘Don’t be
afraid; only have faith.’
Of course there are many who mock our belief and hope in
life after death. They claim say that death destroys us,
wipes us out, and leads nowhere. But there’s no place for
that attitude among us. After all, we are Christians. We
believe strongly in Jesus as the ‘Resurrection and the
Life’, and in his reassuring words, ‘Don’t be afraid; only
The woman who came to Jesus was deeply and even
desperately wounded. All of us too are wounded – some more,
some less. But people can be wounded without showing it.
They can carry such invisible wounds as their feelings of
rejection, failure, guilt, worthlessness, loneliness,
bitterness and hostility.
All of us need healing, and all of us can be ‘wounded
healers’ too. Our lives are continually touching those of
others. With a little sympathy we can heal a wounded heart.
With a little care we can ease a troubled mind. With a
little time we can relieve another’s loneliness.
So every now and then let’s stop and ask ourselves, ‘What
is going out from me in my words, my actions, and my
relationships? How am I coming through? Am I, in fact,
hurting others? Or, under God, might I as a ‘wounded healer’
myself and an agent of God, be actually healing them,
putting them back together again?’
Year B: 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
"‘Talitha, kum!’... ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’"
This morning I went to say Mass at Holloway prison.
And as I was walking up the path to the Chapel, I passed
through the rose gardens they have there. And those gardens
are as beautiful as you might imagine would be the only
place that women who have been there for years can plant
And as I passed, one of the prisoners was in the garden
dead-heading the flowers and throwing them out.
I picked up this one off the path and asked the gardener
if I could keep it.
She said "fine", but asked what I wanted it for.
I told her that it reminded me of someone.
She smiled and asked if that someone was a little lady.
I told her: yes it was.
She gave an enormous wink and gave me this flower.
You see, about fifteen years ago, when I worked in a
mission hospital, a twelve-year-old girl called Marissa came
to see me in my office.
And she had a very serious heart valve disease which was
making her very ill. But we knew that there was an operation
available in another country, in Trinidad, which could make
her better and save her life. But we also knew that she
would have to wait three months to get the operation. So, we
had three months in which we had to try to keep her alive.
So she came to me in my office, held my hand, looked into
my eyes and said: "Please doctor, I am afraid to die and I
want to feel well. Please help me. Promise me you’ll do your
I promised her that I would indeed do my Very, Very Best.
After that I saw her nearly every day. And every day she
brought me a flower – always red – quite a lot like this
one. All that time, I watched her blood tests like a hawk
and I carefully changed her medicines and we did everything
we possibly could to keep her in the best possible condition
for the operation.
And, for two months she did very well.
Then, three weeks before the operation was due, she
started getting worse.
We tried everything we knew.
But nothing worked.
And she died.
- Under my care
- In my hospital
- On my ward
- On my watch
- With my name on her head-board.
I don’t know how her parents felt, but I was devastated.
It was the lowest point in my medical career. The day she
died I cried for the first time in thirty years. I wanted to
give up medicine right then. All I wanted to do was go home
So, that is my justification for thinking that I know a
little bit – a small part - of what Jairus must have gone
through in this Gospel passage – what he must have felt
watching his little girl get sick and dying and knowing
there is not one thing that he can do about it. To misquote
Bob Dylan, I wish that for just one minute we could all
stand inside his shoes.
So when he comes to Jesus, he may be a synagogue
official. Maybe he has all sorts of good professional,
religious and political reasons to be opposed to everything
that Jesus stands for. Maybe even his job is on the line.
But he is not thinking of any of that. He is thinking of his
daughter. And he is thinking that maybe this man just might
be his little girl’s last chance. So he comes to Jesus and
he falls at his feet and - according to the gospel of Mark -
he "earnestly begs" Jesus. Now, with all due respect to the
disciple who may very well have been there at the time, but
as I imagine the story, I think Jairus probably does a
little more than "earnestly beg" him. This man is desperate.
And Jesus responds. And he begins to hope.
So then, what does it feel like when, as you walk along,
someone else jumps in and takes the magic power away to heal
herself? Just how angry do you feel? And then how do you
feel when your officials come to tell you that your daughter
has now died. There is nothing more to hope for. I don’t
know how that feels - to tell you the truth I would rather
not think about that because I remember Marissa.
But Jesus tells Jairus to have faith. "do not be afraid.
Only have faith." And Jairus is going to have Faith. Because
Jairus right now does not have another option. Jairus is
desperate. Right now Jairus will stake his life on this man.
More than that, much more, he will stake his daughter’s life
on this man. He has no other choice.
"Little girl, I tell you to get up."
So what is the message of all this?
First, that Jesus’ healing power is not a magic or a
scarce resource; it is not a commodity or a currency to be
bought, bargained or fought over. It is God’s love for all
created people and there is plenty for everyone.
Second that faith it is not ultimately a head thing - a
belief, a thought, a well worked out position, or a
manifesto commitment. No, it is the love that people have
when the chips are really down - it is where you place your
bottom dollar. It is who you trust when your little girl’s
life is on the line.
That is the Faith of the Church. We are proud to profess
it in Christ our Lord.
Let us stand and profess that faith in the God in whom we
Dr Paul O’Reilly
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and
insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to email@example.com.
Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email
-- Fr. John