everyone, this is my homily for the 13th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. The readings for today's Mass can be
found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/070118.cfmhttp://usccb.org/bible/readings/070118.cfm Thanks as
always for reading; sharing this blog on your social media sites; and
your feedback and comments. I appreciate it. Have a good week - God
Bless - Fr Jim
Quick commercial... Newman Catholic at Montclair State is ending celebrating our 50th Anniversary of the Opening of the Newman Center. We're trying to raise $25,000 for the establishment of a scholarship in honor of one of our previous chaplains, Fr. Art Humphrey, as well as to support our ongoing mission and ministry to the Montclair State University community. If you're interested, please check out: http://www.msunewman.com/50th-ann-appeal for more information and a link to donate on line. Thank You!
Along with courses in scripture,
sacraments, church history, morality, we had a couple classes in seminary that
tried to help us learn how to act in pastoral situations - encounters where as
a priest we would be called to minister to families going through a multitude
of different challenges. Over the course
of the semester, the priest who was our professor underlined sentences that he
said should never be uttered by a priest.
they’re in a better place” or “At least they’re not suffering anymore” - when
encountering someone who’s lost someone they loved and are deep in grief and
mourning. Because saying something like
that can come across as insensitive or seeming to minimize the sufferings of
those who are mourning.
- “God only tests the ones He loves” or “You have to look for that silver
lining!” When you’re meeting with
someone who has gotten some difficult or challenging news like they were just
laid off from work or received some difficult news from a doctor. It’s true, God provides the strength, the
courage, the grace we need in the face of these and countless other things that
we struggle with - but He doesn’t cause you to lose that job or unleash some
illness on you so you can prove your love for Him by remaining faithful in the
face of these things.
some in the class, it was particularly challenging for them to hear these
things (as they were being offered as a critique of “what they did wrong” in
evaluating these future priests responses)
The professor’s point to us was that - these sentiments are all well
intentioned and no doubt people saying them are trying to be supportive to
their friends, their family members sufferings.
But that they can come across as overly simplistic, insensitive or even
dismissive to people’s real pain, real suffering.
thought about that as I was going through tonight’s Gospel. In the midst of these two miracles that Jesus
performs, we hear Jesus saying “Do not be afraid, just have faith.” Coming from Jesus, I’m a bit leery to quote
my professors criticisms. But thinking
about some really heavy situations that some friends, some family, some
parishioners are going through just in my life, I couldn’t imagine me saying
His words to any of them in any of those cases:
-The family mourning the suicidal
death of a loved one;
-the husband who keeps hearing what
a great economy it is and how unemployment is at record lows but can’t find a
job no matter the resumes he’s sent or interviews he’s been on;
-the couple who’ve separated, went
to counseling, and then one day, he just shocks her and says he wants a
divorce... Just thinking about these and
many others, and imagining myself saying
Do not be afraid, just have faith... I imagine some politely
nodding, and walking away rolling their eyes at me; others who are a bit more familiar to me
might have a few other things to say to me in response. And I can’t blame them...
if it’s just words, just a phrase to end listening to a painful, difficult
conversation of someone going through a painful, difficult experience - they
have a right to be angry... they have a right to be ticked off.
Jesus is offering more than just words.
He’s not just tapping someone on the shoulder and saying “there there,
it will be okay” in a somewhat condescending manner as he walks away. He shows us what happens when we do have
one woman was afflicted with hemorrhages for 12 years... She had tried
everything known at the time to alleviate her suffering - to no avail. She has only heard about Jesus... she sees
him, she reaches out to Him and touches Him.
That episode interrupts the initial story - that the synagogue official,
Jairus, came to beg Jesus for his daughter’s sake, who is so sick, she’s “at
the point of death.” By the time Jesus
arrives to the house - after curing the other woman - people arrive
(interesting how they’re not categorized as friends or relatives- maybe the
Gospel writer, Mark, doesn’t think they truly are by their response) and say “
Your daughter has died, why trouble the teacher any longer?” It’s in light of the previous miracle,
coupled with what had to be devastating news for this father who had come to
beg for his daughter’s healing that Jesus calls Jairius to deeper faith in the
face of deep despair - Do not be afraid, just have faith.
words are uttered, are recorded and remembered because we are able to see
pretty amazing results. The anonymous
woman who touches Jesus is called “daughter” as she experiences instant,
complete healing. Jairuis, the desperate
father, ignores this horrific news and listens to Jesus.... trusts Jesus... and
witnesses his daughter being brought back to life, restored to health.
problem with stories like these I think is that we jump ahead and bring our own
expectations to our prayers. So when I
hear of an illness, I can look at prayer as being the antidote - Jesus fix
this, thanks - and then return to whatever I was doing before I heard this
news. Or the other side of the spectrum
- how often have people criticized someone saying “thoughts and prayers” in
response to some tragedy - because it’s seemingly empty words that are usually
coupled by little to no real action on the part offering those words.
in Jesus calls us to believe in Him, to trust in Him, to know and love Him...
To recognize the precious gift of life we’ve been given. To ask Him, listen to Him as He guides us
throughout our journey of life. To not
forget Him when things are going well and imagine that somehow we are truly
in control of every aspect of our lives... To not give up on Him when we
struggle, and doubt, and fail, and fear and are tempted to believe that faith
when we look at faith not as some quick response to an inexplicable situation,
but rather a lifetime - well check that - an eternity of God’s goodness,
his miraculous, unfolding story of love with all humanity... as well as with
each of us individually - including an adult woman who’s struggled with a
medical condition; a family where a young girl is death-ridden - you and I who
have our own stories and struggles and cares and worries.... it’s when we see
faith with that vision that Jesus’ words not only make sense, but are renewing
and lifegiving: Do not be afraid, just
have faith...As if Jesus were reminding us - I see... I know... I’m here... I’m
not going anywhere... Don’t bring your expectations, your demands - bring
yourself to me and trust in me. Then, we
can “just have faith” - knowing that, in the end, that’s the only thing we
truly have... and it’s the only thing we ultimately need.