June 29, 2018

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Wisdom is the source of the first reading for Mass on this weekend. When this book originally was written, the plight of God’s people was bad. They had experienced much in their history. Among these experiences was the loss of their national independence with ongoing humiliation and misery.

Many had left the Holy Land to make new homes elsewhere. But in these new places, they became virtual outcasts if they retained their ethnic and religious identity.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the obviously devout author of Wisdom took pains to insist that “God does not make death” (Wis 1:13). God does not design the hardships and terrors that come upon people. The evil wills of people bring these misfortunes upon others.

Nevertheless, the book insists God’s justice and goodness will prevail. Time is required for the ship of human life to be righted when struck by the strong waves of evil, but the ship will right itself because God’s justice ultimately will prevail.

St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians supplies the second reading. This reading states a fact that humans, even committed Christians, are inclined to forget. This fact is that the greatest treasure is not that stored in vaults, but rather it is the knowledge of God and the insights for living that this knowledge produces.

The Apostle continues to say that if anyone has a surplus in the things of this Earth, then this surplus should be put at the disposal of those in need.

For its last reading, the Church this weekend offers us a passage from the Gospel of St. Mark. It is a collection of two miracle stories.

In the first story, a synagogue official, Jairus, comes to Jesus, saying that that his daughter is critically ill. Jairus was desperate. He feared that his daughter might die. As a synagogue official, he most likely was a religious man.

In the Scriptures, religious devotion always aided a person. Faith illuminated the mind. Faith eased the way for wisdom. So in his personal goodness and religious devotion, Jairus recognized the divine power within Jesus.

Jesus mercifully goes to the girl’s bedside and heals her. She rises and walks around. Those present saw her recovery. It was not imaginary.

In the second story, a woman with a chronic hemorrhage approaches Jesus. Discreetly, the Gospel does not precisely describe the hemorrhage, but if it was gynecological in nature, as likely it was, she was by this fact ritually impure. This factor set her apart, outside the community.

Under the same rules, anyone whom she touched was also unclean. However, she touched the garment of Jesus. He allowed it. No earthly circumstance could render the Lord unclean. He was the blameless Son of God. He awaits any and all.

Jesus realizes her faith. He tells her that faith has cured her. The hemorrhage stops.

Reflection

These three readings remind us that human reasoning is imperfect. In the first reading, attention obliquely is drawn to the fact that some willingly hurt others, on a modest scale, or on a great scale. The minds of oppressors are distorted, and oppressors often continue to work their evil will.

Even good people can fail to see that hardships come not from God, but from nature or the evil acts of others. It is easy to accuse God of “allowing” misfortune, even tragedies, to come.

Paul, in the second reading, reminds us that our perceptions easily can be blurred. Finally, St. Mark’s Gospel tells us that sickness and anxiety are part of life.

God does not desert us, however. Jesus possesses the key to eternal life. We must recognize what life actually is all about. It is not earthly reward. It is about eternity. †

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