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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 1, 2012
Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7,9,13-15; Mark 5:21-43

                God did not create death. The author of the Book of Wisdom and the Psalmist convey God’s attitude about death and suffering. God does not like it and does not want us to experience it. However, we do. Wisdom’s author tells us suffering and death come from the Evil One; therefore, we are not to choose a life that leads to suffering (though we will never escape it). The Psalmist tells us God’s anger lasts a moment, but his kindness a lifetime. We realize that though we cannot escape suffering, our lives can be marked by choices that focus upon happier meaningful moments rather than letting suffering oppress our consciousnesses.

          The Gospel passage includes the response of Jesus to suffering. First he is met by a crowd of people who want relief from their maladies and then he heals a hemorrhaging woman and resuscitates of a pre-teen girl, the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue official. Each of the females afflicted are not named, but it is clear that suffering affects everyone. Of course, the poor suffer, but even Jairus, in his important position within the synagogue, is not spared from it. Possessing wealth, power, and prestige does not protect oneself from the tragedy of suffering.

          The Evangelist Mark writes to a Jewish audience and portrays Jesus as having enormous powers over natural and supernatural forces. An ordinary Jew is able to see the significance in the authority of Jesus as one who is doing the work of God. A Jew would note that the daughter of Jairus is twelve years old, the number twelve holding special significance to the people. The Twelve Tribes of Israel and the reconstituted Twelve Disciples of Jesus speak of completion of God's plan. Then, the story of Jairus is interrupted in order for us to hear the plight of the older woman with long-standing suffering from twelve years of bleeding. Mark wants the reader to know that something greater is happening before them.

          The compassion called forth from Jesus is remarkable. In a world of customs that seek to include or exclude a person, his compassion makes him vulnerable. Though he did not initiate the touch of the hemorrhaging woman, contact with her makes Jesus ritually unclean to participate in communal worship activities. This woman, who reaches out to him in desperation, makes him ritually impure. He frantically seeks her out, not to scold her, but so that his heart is warmed with affection for her - because she can now be readmitted into her community of faith. He wants to truly acknowledge the identity of this unnamed woman because her knows her faith initiated a powerful healing. Jesus, like his Father, does not want any person to endure an isolating suffering.

          This is not the end of the story. To touch a dead person means that you have become impure. Jesus, the one who is powerful in deed and in word, is to submit himself to the priest to be incorporated back into society. He is already marginalized because he healed a contagious leprous man earlier in the Gospel. Jesus touches the dead daughter of Jairus. Everyone knows she is dead, but he brings her back to life through his powerful prayer. He knows word of this will spread quickly. To him, it does not matter because the girl is restored to her full being.

          Jesus is bringing about a new reality in God's kingdom. They not only see the great miracles he performs; they see that he is willing to extend any frontiers of human-made boundaries because of his compassionate care for others. As the number twelve emphasizes the fullness and completion of the Israelite community, at a personal level it signifies the fullness of life he wants for the hemorrhaging woman and the 12-year old girl. To bring it out farther, Jesus wants fullness of life in this world and the next. This is a world that is not governed by suffering, but is one ruled by compassion, which is the key to a full, meaningful life. Jesus reveals God's compassion to us. He does not like it. He does not want us to experience it. He desires that we delight in the fullness of life he offers us.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The Lord tells the prophet Amos that he will not stand by passively while his people commit grave injustices against those who are weak and poor. He reminds Amos of his action in the past to correct the mistakes of those who flaunt their disobedience to his word. Rather, seek the good and avoid evil. Turn from harmful ways that lead to perdition. The Lord does not care for feasts and sacrifices, but wants his people to practice mercy to one another. The priest of Bethel sent word to the king of Israel that Amos is prophesying against him, to which Amos replies that he is offering the voice of the Lord to the people so they may avoid destruction, turn from their harlotry, and live. Amos tells those who trample on the needy and the poor that the Lord will send destruction upon you soon as payment for your immorality. From that fallen hut of David, the Lord will raise up a people who live correctly in reverence of the Lord and out of compassion for one another. Those who are raised have the protection of the Lord.

Gospel: When Jesus sees a crowd gathering around him, he crosses to the other side. A scribe says that he will follow him everywhere and Jesus replies that he has no place to rest until his mission is complete. In Gedara, Jesus encounters two strong demoniacs coming from the tombs. They tell Jesus to go away because their spirits know who he is. Jesus casts outs the demons from them and drives them into the swine; the townspeople plead with Jesus to leave the village and go elsewhere. Jesus then returns to his own town where people brought a paralytic lying on a stretcher. He forgives his sins, which raises opposition with the scribes who bring forth the charge of blaspheming. He then tells the paralytic to rise, to take up his mat, and walk. As Jesus was walking, he came across Matthew, a tax collector, at his post. Jesus tells him to come be his disciple. The Pharisees mock him for eating with tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes. The disciples of Jesus ask him why they do not fast like John’s disciples. He responds that the time will come for them to do that, but they do not have to as long as the bridegroom is with them.

Saints of the Week

July 1: Junipero Serra, priest, was a Franciscan missionary who founded missions in Baja and traveled north to California starting in 1768. The Franciscans established the missions during the suppression of the Jesuits. San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara are among the most famous. Serra’s statue is in the U.S. Capitol to represent California.

July 3: Thomas, apostle, is thought to have been an apostle to India and Pakistan and he is best remembered as the one who “doubted” the resurrection of Jesus. The Gospels, however, testify to his faithfulness to Jesus during his ministry. The name, Thomas, stands for “twin,” but no mention is made of his twin’s identity.

July 5: Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336), was from the kingdom of Aragon begore she married Denis, king of Portugal, at age 12. Her son twice rebelled against the king and Elizabeth helped them reconcile. After he husband's death, she gave up her rank and joined the Poor Clares for a life of simplicity.

July 5: Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest (1502-1539) was a medical doctor who founded the Barnabites because of his devotion to Paul and Barnabas and the Angelics of St. Paul, a woman's cloistered order. He encouraged the laity to work alongside the clergy to care for the poor.

July 6: Maria Goretti, martyr (1890-1902) was a poor farm worker who was threatened by Alessandro, a 20-year old neighbor. When she rebuffed his further advances, he killed her, but on her deathbed, she forgave him. He later testified on her behalf during her beatification process, which occurred in 1950.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jul 1, 1556. The beginning of St Ignatius's last illness. He saw his three great desires fulfilled: confirmation of the Institute, papal approval of the Spiritual Exercises, and acceptance of the Constitutions by the whole Society.
·         Jul 2, 1928. The Missouri Province was divided into the Missouri Province and the Chicago Province. In 1955 there would be a further subdivision: Missouri divided into Missouri and Wisconsin; Chicago divided into Chicago and Detroit.
·         Jul 3, 1580. Queen Elizabeth I issued a statute forbidding all Jesuits to enter England.
·         Jul 4, 1648. The martyrdom in Canada of Anthony Daniel who was shot with arrows and thrown into flames by the Iroquois.
·         Jul 5, 1592. The arrest of Fr. Robert Southwell at Uxenden Manor, the house of Mr Bellamy. Tortured and then transferred to the Tower, he remained there for two and a half years.
·         Jul 6, 1758. The election to the papacy of Clement XIII who would defend the Society against the Jansenists and the Bourbon Courts of Europe.
·         Jul 7, 1867. The beatification of the 205 Japanese Martyrs, 33 of them members of the Society of Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the reminder that, just as Jesus was willing to be made vulnerable as a result of his compassion for the suffering and the marginalized, so we also must step out in faith and be willing to be made vulnerable.