Today’s homily is for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 27, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
Today’s Gospel juxtaposes the disciples’ lack of faith last week during the storm with two people who are commended for their great faith–the woman with the hemorrhage, and the man whose daughter was sick. As was said in the Aleluia, “Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.”
From the book of Wisdom we heard a foundational truth, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living…God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” This is God’s plan: unity, love, wholeness, and life! Brokenness, sin, sickness, sadness, and death are not of God, but are of the evil one; of Satan and of those who follow him. But life and light, and love and truth, are of God and are the distinguishing characteristics of his disciples.
Both the woman with the hemorrhage, and Jarius’ daughter were at the very edge of existence. Not in the center lane living in the fullness of life, but on the edge–like those who tragically, live along the train tracks, the freeways, under bridges, and along the margins we still see today, no doubt both by their own doing, but also due to a variety of circumstances beyond their control; they live along the edge.
For twelve years the woman had been suffering, and bleeding, and had spent all she had. Pitifully, she dragged herself along the ground just to touch the tassel of our Lord. She had hit rock bottom. No money. No family. And her hemorrhaging made her ritually unclean, unfit for the community. What faith, to know that when everyone and everything else had failed–our Lord would not. That’s beautiful.
It’s no coincidence that Jarius’ daughter was also twelve years old, alive only for as long as the woman had suffered. Certainly she had means–her father being a synagogue official–yet both of their futures were bound up in Jesus. The little girl was in her room and near death as well. Both of these lives were separated from family, friends, and the community, but our Lord brings them back…because of their faith. That’s what he does.
My brothers and sisters, we too need to call upon the name of the Lord, and in our brokenness and sinfulness, reach out in faith to touch his tassel in the sacrament of reconciliation. But we also need to call upon the angels and saints, and ask for their prayers that we might be strengthened and experience the fullness of life for which God has destined us.
I think it’s important to point out that the woman was healed because of her faith, and Jarius’ daughter was healed because of his faith. This Gospel is a wonderful example of what protestant Christians teach about the importance of knowing Jesus and personally calling upon him for mercy and healing. They are right and it’s powerful. But it’s also a wonderful example of the power of intercessory prayer! On the strength of Jarius’ faith, and on his intercession for his daughter’s sake, she is healed. Both women return to life, return to family, return to the community, and share in the goodness of the Kingdom of God revealed in Jesus.
And finally, we need to be intercessors for others as well. The saints of the Church did not start caring about bodies and souls only when they entered heaven, but were concerned about them, and, like our Lord, reached out to them along the highways and byways during their lifetime–and so should we. We are called to share our Lord’s concern for the homeless and the helpless, the addicted, and those who have hit rock bottom. First and foremost, we must pray for others, our sons and daughters, and the helpless, hungry, and homeless. Pray for their healing and their conversion. But also look into ways that organizations are supporting them in their temporal needs. Organizations like Food for the Poor, Unbound, The Wheel Chair Foundation, The Men’s Shelter, the Gospel Mission, and many others, who are in the trenches of bringing life, dignity and hope, to the broken, the addicted, and those on the margins of society. Join me in prayer for these organizations and their good work, but also in supporting their economic needs. St. Paul’s letter to Corinth is for us, “your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, As it is written: Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.” What do you have yet still to offer to others in need?
Today’s Gospel challenges us and all to be the woman who reaches out to our Lord, but to also be Jarius, and go to Jesus so that others might find life, find joy, and return to the table of dignity, of hope, and resurrection.