O.T. XIII [B] (June 27) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/21)
Introduction: Today’s readings speak of the gift of life, both physical and spiritual, that God has given us. They urge and challenge us to be grateful for our health in body and soul and to use God’s gifts of life and health responsibly.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, tells us that God gave us life and health, and that it was the jealousy of the Satan that produced illness and death. The reading also suggests that the goal of our lives on earth is to know, to love, and to serve God here, with perfect health in body and soul, and to share God’s immortal Life forever. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 30) celebrates Christ’s victory over death. The Psalm refrain, “I will praise you Lord, for You have rescued me,” allows us to join the Psalm in thanksgiving. In the second reading, St. Paul asks the Corinthian Christian community to show to their suffering , starving Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, living in poverty and sickness, the same generous kindness and compassion Jesus showed in healing all who came to Him believing. The generosity of Jesus is the central theme here also, for Paul describes Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection as “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Today’s Gospel describes two of our Lord’s miracles, the healing of a woman who suffered from a chronic bleeding disease and the returning of the dead daughter of Jairus to life. These healings teach us that Jesus wills life, and wills full life for all God’s children. They also reveal Jesus as a generous, kind, compassionate God Who wills that men should live their wholesome lives fully, giving us further proof of the Divine power and the Infinite Mercy of our Savior. These miracles were worked by Jesus as reward for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Although the Faith of the ruler may have been defective, and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, Jesus amply rewarded the Faith they had by granting them health and life.
Life messages: # 1: We need to accept God’s call to health, wholeness and holiness. Jesus accepts us as we are. Hence, let us bring before him our bodily illnesses and spiritual wounds and ask for his healing touch. As Christians, we believe that Jesus continues to heal us through God’s instruments in the medical profession like doctors, nurses and medical technicians. Hence, when we go to a doctor, we need to offer a prayer to Christ, The Divine Healer, that we may choose the right doctor, who will make the correct diagnosis, prescribe the correct treatment, and give us the right medicine. Let us not forget the truth that Christ still works wonders of healing. Let us also thank God for the great gift of health and use it for helping those who are sick.
#2: We need to continue the healing mission of the Church: As members of the Church, we are not excused from our vocation to be healers. We do our share of Christ’s healing mission by visiting the sick, by praying for their healing, and by boosting their morale with our loving presence, and words of encouragement and inspiration. Thus, we may enable them to experience the compassion of Jesus the healer.
OT XIII (June 27) Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24; II Cor 8:7,9,13-15; Mk 5:21-43
Homily starter anecdotes # 1: “Do not be afraid; just have Faith.”Ann Jillian, a three-time Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress and singer, is an American actress born to Lithuanian Roman Catholic immigrant parents. Since 1985, she has added motivational speaking to her impressive list of credits, addressing business, medical, professional and women’s groups with her own unique blend of humor and inspiration. Her prowess extends from the world’s concert halls, to feature film and the Broadway stage. She has starred in over 25 TV movies and made hundreds of other TV appearances. Her TV movie, The Ann Jillian Story, which recounts her victory over breast cancer, was the #1 film of that TV season, but, more important, it delivered Ann’s message about the hopeful side of breast cancer to its millions of viewers. It was in 1985 that the then 35-year-old actress made headlines when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. On her way to the hospital to check the nature of the growth which she had noticed, she stopped at St. Francis de Sales Church and read the inscription on the door. “The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” She went into the Church and prayed for the strength to accept her ordeal. The radiant trust in God and peace of mind she maintained before and after the surgery (double mastectomy), was big news in the media and a great inspiration for all cancer patients. She trusted in Jesus’ words given in today’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid; just have Faith.” Actually, this phrase is repeated in the Bible 365 times. [Source: www.believersportal.com/list-365-fear-not-bible-verses/] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 2: Each patient carries his own doctor inside himself: The great missionary physician, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, said it simply and realistically: “Each patient carries his own doctor inside himself. They come to us [physicians] not knowing that truth. We are best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to work.” — Are you giving the “doctor who resides” within you the chance to work? Are you giving the “doctor who resides” within your spouse, your child, your significant other, the chance to work? Here is a little self-administered test from a study by Dr. Carl Simonton. Answer these questions, yes or no. Do you have a tendency to hold resentment? Yes or no. Would you rather carry a grudge than forgive? Yes or no. Would you rather cry in self-pity than invite a friend out for dinner? Yes or no. Do you have a problem developing and maintaining long-term relationships? Yes or no. Do you have a low self image? Yes or no. If you answer with more “yeses,” by Dr. Simonton’s test study, you are not giving the “doctor who resides within” you the best chance to work. A “yes” means you are most vulnerable to illness. (Adapted from Bruce Larson, There is a Lot More to Health Than Not Being Sick, pp. 138-139.) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
#3: Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King: The whole world was saddened when Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died in a medical clinic in Mexico. What was she doing in Mexico? It’s simple. Doctors in the United States had told her they could do no more for her. The clinic in Mexico offered hope. That hope may have been an illusion, but who can blame her? We’ll do anything for hope. Ask someone who has been in chronic pain and has discovered that even the finest medical professionals don’t have a clue about how to stop their pain. Many of these sufferers will go to any lengths to find someone who can give them relief. Wouldn’t you? — The woman with chronic hemorrhage in today’s first Gospel story, comes to Jesus with trusting Faith. She has heard that this is the physician she has been looking for. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Introduction: Today’s readings speak of the gift of life, both physical and spiritual, that God has given us. They urge and challenge us to be grateful for our health in body and soul and to use God’s gifts of life and health responsibly.
Scripture Lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, tells us that God gave us life and health, and that it was the jealousy of Satan which produced illness and death. The reading also suggests that the goal of our lives on earth is to know, to love, and to serve God here with perfect health in body and soul, and to share God’s immortal life forever. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 30), celebrates Christ’s victory over death. The Psalm refrain, “I will praise you Lord, for You have rescued me,” allows us to join the Psalm in thanksgiving, for by Jesus’ Sacrificial death, we, too, have been rescued from spiritual death by having our sins forgiven: “O Lord, You brought me up from the nether world; You preserved me from among those going down into the pit! … At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing…. You changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give You thanks!” In the second reading, St. Paul asks the Corinthian Christian community to show to their impoverished, suffering Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem the same generous kindness and compassion Jesus showed in healing all who came to Him believing. Paul asked the Corinthians to be generous in their contributions to a fund being collected for these suffering, starving brothers and sisters. We see that the generosity of Jesus is central in today’s readings as well: Paul describes Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection as “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Today’s Gospel describes two of our Lord’s miracles, the healing of a woman who suffered from a chronic bleeding disease, and the returning of the dead daughter of Jairus to life. These healings teach us that Jesus wills life, full life, for all God’s children. The two healings also reveal Jesus as a generous, kind, compassionate God Who wills that men should live their wholesome lives fully, and they offer us further proof of the Divine power and Infinite mercy of our Savior Jesus. These miracles were worked by Jesus as rewards for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Although the Faith of the ruler may have been defective, and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, Jesus amply rewarded the Faith they had by granting them health and life.
The first reading, Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 explained: This reading complements the Gospel theme by explaining the origins of evil and death in the world. In today’s Gospel, Jesus revives a dead girl and cures a woman of her chronic illness. We ask the perennial question: “How can a good God permit, evils like poverty, AIDS, holocausts, random mass-shootings and terrorist attacks?” Today’s passage from the Book of Wisdom defends the goodness of God, stating, “God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living” (Wis 1:13). The author of Wisdom is talking about the death which results from sin, — eternal separation from God. The author of sin and death is the devil, and when we sin we cooperate in the devil’s plan for our own destruction. Our God is a God of Life. His will for us is that we should have more abundant life. The truth that man’s real destiny is an unending Life with God is stated for the first time in the Old Testament in the Book of Wisdom: “For righteousness is immortal. God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of His own eternity”(Wis 1:15, 2:23). This means that our God-given life-goal is to know, to love and to serve God here, and to share God’s Life in bliss forever in Heaven.
The second reading, (2 Corinthians 8:7,9,13-15) explained: Paul addresses the Christians in Corinth, rich in the spiritual gifts (prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, etc. See chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians). Complimenting them on their material and spiritual prosperity, Saint Paul now asks them to come to the financial aid of a destitute Christian congregation in Jerusalem. Paul has already sent the suffering people alms from Macedonia and Galatia; now, he asks the Corinthian Gentile converts to show their solidarity and union with their Jewish brethren by practicing the virtue of charity as the Macedonians have done. Paul’s first concern is with the welfare of those whom the Church has taken as its responsibility. He also appeals to the Self-emptying example of Jesus, indescribably rich as Son of God, in assuming human life and accepting death, for our sake. The love St. Paul has for the Corinthians is this self-gift’s own reward.
Gospel exegesis: The context: In today’s Gospel we have what is often called a “Markan sandwich”. One story is encased or sandwiched between the beginning and end of another. Here, we have an unusual combination of two miracle stories, one contained within the other – a healing, and a restoration of life. The story of the woman with the flow of blood interrupts, and is sandwiched between the two parts of the account of Jairus’ plea for his dying daughter and its result. These miracles were worked by Jesus as rewards for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Though the ruler may have trusted Jesus out of desperation, and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, even their perhaps defective Faith was amply rewarded.
The parallels: The stories have several common features. One woman is 12 years old, and the other has suffered for 12 years. Both are called “daughter,” and both are in need of physical healing. The girl’s father is encouraged to have Faith, and the older woman is praised for her Faith. The two stories illustrate Jesus’ power over both chronic illness and death. In each healing, Jesus shows God’s marvelous generosity by giving the recipients life and salvation in addition to physical healing.
The faith-experiences of Jairus and the sick woman: 1) Jairus: As the ruler of the synagogue, Jairus was a well-respected man in the local Jewish community. He was the administrative head of the synagogue, the president of the board of elders and the one responsible for the conduct of the services. He probably shared in the Pharisees’ prejudice that Jesus was a heretic and a wandering preacher to be avoided. If so, the urgency of his need and the helplessness of the situation prompted him to forget his position, to swallow his pride and prejudice and to seek help from Jesus the wandering wonderworker.
2) The woman with a hemorrhage: The account tells of a woman who came to Jesus with expectant Faith as a last resort, after trying every other cure known in her day. The Mosaic Law (Lv 15:25-27) declared her unclean and shut her off from the worship of God and the fellowship of her friends. That may be why she decided to try to touch the tassels of Jesus’ garment secretly. Jesus, like every other Jew, wore an outer robe with four tassels on it, one at each corner–the badge of a devout Jew as prescribed (Nm 15:38-40).
The Faith that was rewarded: The woman’s boldness in touching Jesus’ garment — which, according to the Law, made Jesus unclean — could have angered the Master. Further, because her “chronic bleeding disease” rendered her ritually unclean, any contact she had with others in the crowd, made them also ritually unclean as well. But her Faith in the healing power of Jesus was so strong that she risked breaking all the social rules to seek what she believed He could do for her. By affectionately calling her “daughter,” Jesus established a relationship with her and gave her the assurance that she was healed: “Daughter, your Faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” In addition, she gained a personal relationship with Jesus as a member of Jesus’ family (3:35). By trusting in the power of God and doing His will, she was not only physically cured but was also fully restored to a normal religious and social life. It was her Jesus’ garment – that was a major factor in her healing.
The Faith that brought back life from death: As Jesus sent the woman to her house, Jairus received the shocking news of the death of his daughter. But Jesus insisted on going to Jairus’ house and consoled the father saying, “Do not be afraid; only have Faith.” The phrase, “Do not be afraid,” appears in the Bible 366 times [Source: www.believersportal.com/list-365-fear-not-bible-verses/] Those who greeted Jairus at his home were professional mourners who wailed, beat their breasts, tore their hair, and rent their garments. There were also flute players who played funeral dirges. The crowd told Jairus: “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” (35). But Jesus assured the crowd: “The child is not dead but sleeping,” meaning that the girl’s death was only temporary, and she would wake up at his call. Jesus took the parents of the little girl with only Peter, James, and John into the room, took the child by the hand and said to her, “‘Talitha koum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’” Those who had laughed Jesus to scorn must have been greatly amazed when they realized Jesus’ power.
Ministry of presence: Jesus’ “ministry of presence,” was what drew people as a magnet draws iron filings. When Jairus approached Jesus in today’s Gospel (Mk 5:21-43) about his dying daughter, Jesus immediately became present to him and left with him to visit the child. On the way, someone hemorrhaging was healed simply by reaching out to touch Jesus cloak tassel with Faith. Arriving at Jairus’ house, Jesus was present to the apparently dead child and to her parents. In all cases, Jesus brought new life into dark situations. What we are, and what they are receiving, is the very compassion of Jesus. It is that compassion that urges us to visit those who need consoling. And our compassion finds its release in being present to others in their time of need, just as Jesus was. Consoling and comforting are spiritual works of mercy and visiting the sick and dying is a corporal work of mercy. This “mystery of mercy” is supremely revealed in the life of Jesus, and, as Pope John Paul II taught us, it is our constant mission to proclaim and introduce that mercy into our daily life (Dives in Misericordia, 1980; #14). Just being present to those in need is healing! Coming to the aid of our neighbor in a time of need, both spiritual and physical, is a charitable action or “work of mercy” (CCC #2447). When we serve those who are hurting, we serve Christ who identifies with them (CCC #544).
Life messages: # 1: We need to accept God’s call to health, wholeness and holiness. Jesus accepts us as we are. Hence, let us bring our bodily illnesses and spiritual wounds to Jesus for healing. We should pray for healing which will give us spiritual and physical health in every aspect of our lives, so that we may function in perfect harmony with the Will of God, with the people around us, and with the environment. As Christians, we believe that Jesus continues to heal us through human instruments in the medical profession, like doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. Hence, when we go to a doctor, we need to offer a prayer to Christ, the Divine Healer, that we may choose the right doctor, who will make the correct diagnosis, prescribe the correct treatment, and give us the correct medicine. Let us not forget the truth that, over, above and beyond the ability and skill of the greatest human healer, Christ still works wonders of healing. Let us also thank God for the great gift of health and use it for helping those who are sick.
#2: We need to continue the healing mission of the Church: As members of the Church, we are not excused from our vocation to be healers. When a friend of ours is terminally ill, the skill of the doctors and their advanced medical tools often become powerless. What the patient needs in such a situation is our care, concern, and prayerful presence, enabling them to experience through us the love, compassion and mercy of Jesus. We do our share of Christ’s healing mission by visiting the sick, by praying for their healing, and by boosting their morale through our loving presence, encouragement, support, and inspiration.
#3: We need to have trusting Faith in the mercy and Divine power of Jesus: The primary condition for the effectiveness of our prayer is our Faith in the goodness and mercy of God. Such a Faith is possible only if we remain related to God through prayer, the Sacraments, and a meditative study of the Bible. Every day we should say a fervent prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gift of active Faith. Let us keep in mind this wise piece of advice given by St. Ignatius of Loyola: “We must work as if everything depends on us, but we must pray as if everything depends on God.”
JOKES OF THE WEEK # 1: Healed by laughter: “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Prv 17:22). In the 1300’s, surgeon, Henri de Mondeville reportedly told jokes to his patients in the recovery room. Laughter exercises the face, shoulders, diaphragm, and abdomen. When the breathing deepens, the heart rate rises, and the blood takes up and transports more oxygen. Endorphins are released, pain thresholds are raised, and some studies suggest that even our immune systems are boosted. When we laugh, others laugh too. — Laughter is a contagious, highly effective, non-prescription medicine. It has no side effects, and no one is allergic to it. Have we had our dose of laughter today? We can use the tool of humor to induce laughter for our health, healing and general sense of well-being. We can even spend time in daily practicing our laughing out loud – maybe by smiling first, then leaning into a giggle, and then in outright belly laughs!
# 2: “I’m on disability!” A deaf man, a blind man and a disabled man heard a rumor that God had come down to a Church in the village to heal the sick. They all went to find out if it was true. God signed to the deaf man, “Can I help you, son?” The man signed back that he would be so happy if he could hear again. God touched the man and suddenly he could hear. God then touched the blind man and he was able to see. The third man was sitting in his wheelchair with his mouth wide open in amazement. God looked at the man and asked him what he wanted. The man drew back and yelled, “Don’t lay one finger on me! I’m on disability!”
# 3: A pastor joke: One Sunday at Mass as the priest was giving his homily, a little baby in the front row suddenly started crying loudly. The mother did her best to pacify the child, but nothing worked. So finally, she got up and started to walk down the aisle to take the baby into the cry room. The priest stopped his preaching, and very compassionately called out to the mother, “That’s OK! You don’t have to leave. The child isn’t disturbing me.” The young woman turned around and said, “No, pardon me Father, but you’re disturbing my child!”
WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
1) Liturgy links: http://www.theology.ie/liturgy.htm
2) Catholic Sites.Org: http://www.catholicsites.com
3) Catholicism: http://catholicism.about.com/
4) Fr. Pat’s place: http://www.frpat.com/
5) Chastity Talks to Teenagers: http://www.chastity.com/
6)Dr. Bryant Pitro’s commentary on Cycle B Sunday Scripture: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-b
7) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:
Scriptural Homilies” no. 39 by Fr. Tony firstname.lastname@example.org
18- Additional anecdotes
1) “This is where I found Christ.” Here is a beautiful old story about Zacchaeus, the tax collector. It tells how, in later years, he rose early every morning and left his house. His wife, curious, followed him one morning. At the town well he filled a bucket… and he walked until he came to a sycamore tree. There, setting down the bucket, he began to clean away the stones, the branches, and the rubbish from around the base of the tree. Having done that, he poured water on the roots and stood there in silence, gently caressing the trunk with both of his hands. When his amazed wife came out of hiding and asked what he was doing, Zacchaeus replied simply, “This is where I found Christ.” I can just imagine that for the rest of their lives, that woman who touched the tassel of Jesus’ robe that day on the street… and the daughter of Jairus who was raised up in that room in her home, continually brought people back to those sacred spots and said, “This is where I found Christ! This is where Christ loved me into life!” — Do you have a sacred spot like that? This is the Good News of our Christian Faith, isn’t it! Love has the power to heal, to reconcile, and to redeem. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) Healing touch: Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center; Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kansas; and Scott and White Clinic, Temple, Texas, have shown that hugging communicates tenderness, gentleness, caring-ness –behaviors essential for healing of both body and soul. Hugging, they say, relieves many physical and emotional problems, helps people live longer, maintains health, relieves stress, and promotes sleep. The studies also show that hemoglobin, the portion of blood that carries oxygen, increases significantly when people are touched. There’s your answer for those who say the Peace Exchange is artificial! And it certainly gives husbands and wives, parents and children, and significant others good reason to hug and hug and hug! – Jesus believed in and made good use of, the essential healing touch, even when someone else, believing, did the touching, for that touch drew out Divine Power, power, and virtue, and brought healing to the one who had reached out in Faith for it. — Let’s remember that. It’s a good reason to keep human touch on a high level. Keep in touch with Jesus by Faith and you’ll feel power and newness flowing into and through you. There is healing in the touch! Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3) Physical touch made the difference: The Menninger Institute in Topeka, Kansas once had a fascinating experiment. They identified a group of crib babies who did not cry. Let me explain. It seems that babies cry because they instinctively know that that is the way to get attention. Crying is their way of calling out. These babies, however, had been in abusive situations. Their parents let them cry for hours on end and never responded. Do you know what happened? The babies eventually quit crying. It was almost as though they knew that it was not worth trying. So the Menninger Institute came in for an experiment. They got some people from retirement and even nursing homes, and every day these people held these babies and rocked them. The object was to get these children to start crying again. And you know, it worked. Physical touch had made the difference. — Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus’ touch healed a woman and resuscitated a girl. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4) “It was a good day for me”: There is a story about the fourth-century Greek “Cynic Philosopher,” Diogenes of Sinilope. On a voyage to Aegina, he was captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Crete. As he gazed at the bystanders who were bidding for him, he looked at a man and told the pirate chief, “Sell me to that man because he needs a master.” The man who bought him was a Corinthian by name Xeniades. “What is your trade?” asked Xeniades. “The only trade I know is that of governing men by teaching them the art of virtuous self-control,” replied Diogenes. Xeniades was so impressed by his philosopher-slave that he promptly handed over to him the management of his household and the education of his children. “It was a good day for me,” Xeniades used to tell his friends, “when Diogenes entered my household.” — Jairus, the father of the girl Jesus raised from death, as described in today’s Gospel, must have given a better compliment to Jesus in expressing his commitment to Jesus and Faith in his Divinity. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) Jesus Christ the healer: There was a television program hosted by Barbara Walters sometime back, on which she interviewed three celebrities: Johnny Carson, Johnny Cash, and Walter Cronkite. According to one viewer, Johnny Carson came across as the typical jaded playboy hedonist. Everything he said telegraphed the fact that he was living for pleasure, but, having tried everything and been everywhere he was fed up with the whole thing. Walter Cronkite was the suave humanist, the worldly philosopher. Now retired and wealthy, he was enjoying life as best he could. He was looking at life rather philosophically, but all he really was saying was, “That’s the way it is!” Johnny Cash, on the other hand, admitted his background of alcoholism and drug addiction and the fact that he had virtually destroyed a marriage and wrecked his life. But he openly said he had found Jesus. There was peace in his eyes and contentment in his voice. Cash spoke of a hope for the future which neither of the others had. http://www.pbc.org/dp/stedman/john/3848.html). — No doctor could have healed Johnny Cash. Only Christ could do that. Only Christ can heal a broken marriage. Only Christ can heal broken relationships within a family. Only Christ can give us hope when everyone else is telling us that there is no hope to be found. Only Christ can deliver us from sin. Only Christ can save us – if we choose to be saved. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6) “He is Jesus Christ”: Lloyd Ogilvie, former pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church and a popular speaker and writer, once spoke at a large convention. The woman who introduced him began by saying, “We have a very unusual privilege tonight. In our midst is without a doubt the world’s finest communicator. He is extremely sensitive, alert, compassionate and wise. He can sense a person’s true needs immediately and speak just the right word to heal a hurt.” Dr. Ogilvie later confessed that he felt both flattered and frightened. How could he live up to all that? He didn’t have to. For as the woman came to the end, she said, “We are in for a tremendous experience tonight because this supreme Lover of people is in our midst. Who is He? He is Jesus Christ. And now here is a man named Lloyd Ogilvie who will tell us about Him” (Rev. Dave Wilkinson). — Jesus is the Supreme Lover of people. “He can sense a person’s true needs immediately and speak just the right word to heal a hurt.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
7) The Sequoia trees of California tower as much as 300 feet above the ground. Strangely, these giants have unusually shallow root systems that reach out in all directions to capture the greatest amount of surface moisture. Seldom will you see a redwood standing alone, because high winds would quickly uproot it. That is why they grow in clusters. Their intertwining roots provide support for one another against the storms. — When WE gather together, we provide similar support. Pain and suffering and illness come to all of us. But, just like those giant Sequoia trees, we can be supported in those difficult times by the knowledge that we have one another; we are not alone. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
8) “The child is not dead but asleep.” Martin College in Pulaski, Tennessee has one of the oldest cemeteries in the state in Pulaski, dated back to 1810-1850. They have made a park of it and placed all of the tombstones where they can be easily read. It is heart-wrenching to see that one out of three graves is that of a child, a stark reminder of the incredible infant mortality rate in those rugged days. But I noticed something else. On almost every tombstone of a child, there is chiseled on the bottom of the stone Jesus’ words: “The child is not dead but asleep.” It was then that I realized how many tens of thousands of parents throughout the last 2,000 years have taken so much comfort from these words. These are words of hope. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
9) “Aren’t you glad I walk with the Lord, Earl?” Pat Kelly, a major league outfielder in the ’70s, was a born-again Christian. One day Pat said to his manager, Earl Weaver, “Aren’t you glad I walk with the Lord, Earl?” Weaver replied, “I’d rather you walked with the bases loaded.” When one football coach was asked about his offensive team’s execution he replied, “I’m all for it.” — Sports are popular because they are a metaphor for our life experience. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes you feel like the champion of the world. Sometimes you just feel beaten up. “I’m sometimes up and I’m sometimes down,” says the old spiritual, “sometimes I’m almost to the ground.” And we’ve been there. And so have the people who trek across the pages of our Bible. Our lesson for today is about two people who felt beaten up. One was a righteous Jew named Jairus whose daughter was dying. The other heartsick person in our story is a woman who had been ill for twelve years with an issue of blood that doctors couldn’t cure. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
10) “What is the healthiest hour of the week?” : Dr. Granger Westberg, the founder of Wholistic Medicine, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, asks this question when he talks to nurses, doctors, and pastors: “What is the healthiest hour of the week?” How would you answer that question? Dr. Westberg surprises many people by answering, “The hour of worship on Sunday morning.” Why is that true? In order to answer that question we need to consider two other questions which Dr. Westberg often puts to his audiences: (1) What is the major factor in sickness? and (2) What is the major factor in health? How would you answer those questions? One medical study shows that the major cause of sickness is desiring revenge. Dr. Westberg quotes a survey of stroke patients most of whom admitted that there was someone against whom they felt a significant desire for revenge. In many cases, that desire for revenge is a repressed feeling, an attitude instead of an expressed action. That same medical study shows that the major factor in staying healthy is gratitude. — The ancient psalmists had the right idea: “Praise is comely for the upright.” Worship at its best offers the opportunity to resolve conflict through forgiveness and to express feelings of gratitude through praising God for His acts of grace and mercy. At its best, the Church is a healing community. The Church can only be at its best when the members center on and conform themselves to Jesus, the Healer as described in today’s healing stories. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
1) Christians are called to be compassionate, “wounded healers.”
Perhaps Henri Nouwen, the Catholic theologian, has said this better than anyone else. The author of many books, Nouwen speaks of Christians as “wounded healers” who have compassion. Compassion is not pity. Pity lets us stay at a distance. It is condescending. Compassion is not sympathy. Sympathy is for superiors to give to inferiors. Compassion is not charity. Charity is for the rich to continue in their status over the poor. Compassion is born of God. It means entering into the other person’s problems. It means taking on the burdens of the other. It means standing in the other person’s shoes. It is the opposite of professionalism. It is the humanizing way to deal with people. “Just as bread without love can bring war instead of peace, professionalism without compassion will turn forgiveness into a gimmick.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
12) Transformer of sufferings into a life with purpose: Once the people of Chile and Argentina argued over the boundary between their two countries. Later, they agreed to live at peace and erected a statue to remind them of that agreement. The Argentine sculptor melted down cannons from his country’s army to form a statue of Christ. It stands today in the Andes Mountains on the border between the two countries. One hand of Christ holds a cross while the other is raised in a blessing. For Christ is that agent of transforming power who changes hostilities into peace, injustices into brotherhood, and sufferings into a life with purpose. — We can look forward to the continuation of that power in his world beyond our boundary, as well. Healing, knitting together fragile bits of our fractured bodies and souls, remains God’s most basic on-going creative work in the cosmos. While God continues to intervene as Divine Physician, He has already provided us with a universal vaccine for our ills in the principle of love and the person of Jesus Christ. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
13) “That’s it!” “That’s what, Leigh?” Tim Hansel tells about a special friend of his who suffers from severe cerebral palsy. She telephoned Tim one day and asked, “What does it mean for a horse to be handicapped!?” Tim answered, “Well, Leigh, they usually handicap the strongest horse by adding a little extra weight to make the race more fair.” “Yeah, I know!” said Leigh. “Then what does it mean if you handicap a golfer?” Tim said, “The poorer the golfer, the higher the handicap.” “Yeah, I know!” Leigh said again. “And what does it mean . . .” They explored a number of sports with the same conclusion. There was a long pause. Finally Leigh said, “That’s it!” “That’s what, Leigh?” Tim asked. “That’s it!” Leigh said, “That’s why God gave me such a big handicap . . . because I’m so special!” [Keep On Dancin‘, (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Family Publishing, 1995), p. 110.] — To a great extent, life is a matter of chance willed by God. A certain number of people will be stricken with cerebral palsy. Leigh just happened to be among the unlucky. God does not choose people to suffer from problems like cerebral palsy; He permits it for His own reasons, always salvific. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
14) “Your Faith has made you well.” The advent of genuinely science-based medicine at the dawn of the 20th-century had, we thought, reduced illness to a collection of bothersome bacteria and other microscopic marauders. Being sick was no longer anyone’s “fault”; it was no longer a sign of weakness, sin, or Divine displeasure. Sickness was brought on by outside invaders that broke down our body’s natural defenses. We had only to find the right “magic bullet,” we thought, and all ills could be cured. Now, everything is our own fault again. Our inability to handle stress effectively clamps down our colon. A love affair with cream cheese and pepperoni pizza clogs our arteries. Curling up with a good book instead of hitting the stair-master has made our muscle tone horribly off-key and our cardiovascular system out of breath. Everything that operates at a less than perfect level is held up to us as evidence of yet another sin we have committed in our lives. — When Jesus’ healing power wrought the miracle of health in the hemorrhaging woman in this week’s Gospel text, Jesus immediately sought her out to speak with her about her experience. Impressed by the power of her Faith, Jesus proclaims, “Your Faith has made you well.” Furthermore, Jesus adds a standard Jewish blessing “Go in peace.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
15) She never realized the miracle of her life when she was living it. In Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, Emily Webb comes back from the dead to the town of her childhood. There she finds all her long-dead acquaintances alive and her mother and father, too. The town is still the same as she remembers it when she was a child — except for one thing. The sheer beauty and wonder of everything she sees is overwhelming. Every sight and sound, every gesture of love, each tender grace between friends is almost too much for her to bear. She had never realized the miracle of her life when she was living it. — Faith is strengthened through the pleasure that comes from remembering the miracle stories. But it’s not just that. When we choose Faith over control and “let God be God,” we have a much better chance of experiencing those miracles of God’s grace all around us right now. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) “I decided long ago that there are no strangers in my world”: One of my favorite authors today is a professor at Loyola University in Chicago. His name is Father John Powell. In addition to being a best-selling writer, he is also a highly popular lecturer, teacher, and counselor. In his book, entitled, Through the Eyes of Faith, he tells about his prison ministry. About once a month, he visits a prisoner in the state penitentiary. He describes how difficult that is for him personally… the atmosphere is dismal, dark, depressing… and charged with suspicion. However, on one occasion, Father Powell said he had an enlightening and inspiring experience in that stern and somber prison environment. An elderly woman was standing beside him as they moved through the visitor line. Together, they went through numerous security checkpoints. They were required to produce identification; they were required to pass through metal detectors; they were led by heavily armed guards through countless doors made of strong steel bars. And through it all, John Powell said he could not help but notice how this sweet, dear woman was smiling warmly toward everyone, waving tenderly to the guards and calling many of them by name, and greeting everyone in a kind and loving way. John Powell was fascinated with her. She was absolutely radiant. She was a ray of sunshine and a breath of fresh air in that sullen place. Suddenly, John Powell said to her, “Gee, I’ll bet you bring a lot of love into this world with your smiling face and words.” “Father,” she replied, “I decided long ago that there are no strangers in my world. Only brothers and sisters. Some of them I haven’t met yet.” Reflecting on that experience, John Powell wrote this remarkable paragraph. Listen closely. He said: “That lady drew out of me a deep and warm reaction of love. And gradually I came to realize that people are not one thing, good or bad, but many things. In every human being there is warmth, love, affection, but there is also hurt, anger, weakness. We stimulate or draw out of them one or the other. It all depends upon our approach, and our approach depends upon our attitude.” And then Father Powell writes these concluding words: “This was the genius of Jesus. He took people where they were and loved them into life. This is precisely what Jesus did for … those whose lives He touched. He was a living portrait of love in action. And the caption under the portrait reads: Please love one another as I have loved you. Yes… this was the genius of Jesus. He took people where they were and loved them into life.” [See John Powell, Through the Eyes of Faith (Allen, Texas: Tabor Publishing, 1992), pp. 60-61.] — This is precisely what we see Jesus doing here in this dramatic passage in Mark 5. He is loving some needy and hurting people into life. This passage is a fascinating one because here we have a story within a story. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
17) Death is not God’s doing: The untimely death of Jesuit theologian and friend, Peter Arokiadoss, during Holy Week 2008 shocked us all. Arokiadoss had a persistent cough, diagnosed later as result of metastases in the bile duct. Within days, Arokiadoss breathed his last. On the eve of his death, when asked by a relative why God gave him a priest, such sickness, Arokiadoss replied: “No, God didn’t give me this sickness. All of us have cancer cells which are under control. Most likely because of my lifestyle or food or sleeping habits, I might have given cause for these cells to grow and destroy the good cells. God does not cause sickness; we cause it ourselves.” — The opening words of today’s reading declare: “Death was not God’s doing.” We often feel that God is the cause of all births/deaths, but Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it in abundance.” Indeed, God is a God of Life, and “death is not God’s doing.” It is, rather, we who cause death in myriad forms – through our sin, selfishness, pride, power-plays, greed, and godlessness. Nonetheless, the Lord of Life bids us touch people and heal them. Are we ready to hold people’s hands and cry out with the power of the Spirit: “Talitha, koum!” “Little girl, (sick man, addicted youth, sorrowing widow, frustrated priest, failed student …), Arise, Arise, arise!”?
[Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
18) Merchant of life or death? In 1888, a man picked up the morning paper and, to his horror, read his own obituary! The newspaper, reporting the death of the man’s brother, had misidentified him as the man himself! Like most of us, the surviving brother relished the idea of finding out what people would say about him after he died. He read past the bold caption, “Dynamite King Dies,” to the text itself. He read along until he was taken aback by the description of himself as a “merchant of death.” He was the inventor of dynamite and had amassed a great fortune from the manufacture of weapons of destruction among many other things. But he was moved by this description. Did he really want to be known as a “merchant of death”? It was, perhaps, at that moment that a healing power greater than the destructive force of dynamite came over him and prompted him to establish in his will a series of prizes honoring those who contributed to the world works of peace and human betterment. — Today, of course, the man is best remembered, not as a “merchant of death,” but as the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize – Alfred Nobel. [Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) Power in weakness: Joseph Stalin, dictator of Soviet Russia from 1924 to 1953, was an ex-Christian who had become an utter materialist. After his death, even the Russian Communists reversed his ruthless policies that had led to the “liquidation” (a nice word for killing) of millions of people who got in his way. Materialistic dictators think in terms of power, and power usually means armies and weapons. When the papacy was brought into international diplomatic discussion in the 1930’s, Stalin asked how many divisions of soldiers the Holy Father had at his disposal. Winston Churchill told the story in his memoirs, The Second World War. It seems that in 1935 France signed a vague agreement with Soviet Russia to give mutual assistance against aggression. French Premier Pierre Laval followed up the treaty with a visit to Moscow, during which he discussed politics with Stalin. Stalin was anxious to know just how many divisions of soldiers France had on the western front. When Laval had told him, he also brought up another matter that was important to France diplomatically. “Can’t you do something to encourage religion and the Catholics in Russia?” the French premier dared to ask the atheist dictator. “It would help me so much with the Pope.” “Oh” Stalin replied. “The Pope! How many divisions has he got?” Laval knew he had been brushed off. — The only army the Popes have is their small ceremonial Swiss Guard. Militarily, they are powerless. But as a moral force, they are very powerful. The papacy has outlived Hitler, Stalin, and a host of “Strongmen” over the centuries. Popes can say, with St. Paul, “When I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10. Today’s second reading.). -Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).L/21
Scriptural Homilies” no. 39 by Fr. Tony email@example.com
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604