Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday word, 28 June 2009

13th Sunday of the Year B (28 Jun 2009)
Wis 1. 13-15; 2, 23-24; Ps 30; 2Co 8. 7, 9, 13-15; Mk 5. 21-43
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Faith First
I don’t know about you, but I remember hearing more than a few times in my religious training that the miracles of Jesus proved his identity and instilled faith in those who witnessed them. Had any of you heard those or similar words? I thought as much.

Such points of view get accepted into common understanding. The common understanding (which in this case is “misunderstanding”) overshadows any challenge to it, even ones that come from scripture itself.

Faith comes from hearing, as St. Paul wrote./2/Today’s gospel selection offers such a challenge.The woman, who said “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured,” demonstrated faith in Jesus before she tasted Jesus’ healing power. The woman was a flesh-and-blood challenge to the misunderstanding that miracles preceded faith. Skeptics might muse that surely she was on the fringe of one or another large crowd in which Jesus had performed a miracle. Scripture doesn’t muse: she had heard about Jesus, and her learning was one that came to her ears not from witnessing Jesus at another time./1/

We are hearers, who have never seen Jesus in the flesh. Our faith-hearing is more significant than we may think. The woman in the gospel reminds us of that. The fact that she is unnamed has this advantage: we can easily lend our names to her experience: “When Kathy had heard about Jesus”; or, “When Kevin had heard about Jesus.”

That advantage is of great value when it comes to our relationship with scripture: In whom do we see ourselves as we read it? Our seeing changes as we grow and develop as humans and as people of faith. Also certain things remain constant, a sinful tendency as well as a fruit of the Spirit, to which any of us may be inclined. The Book of Wisdom voiced God’s undying purpose and the lurking of the Enemy of our human nature, always vying for our allegiance.
God fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome [and humans are] the image of [God’s] own nature. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.
The drama of Christian living is seeking to appropriate God’s desire and brighten the image of God’s own nature in ourselves. That begins by hearing and is deepened by hearts open and receptive to God and skilled at noticing what the Enemy of our human nature subtly and shrewdly has us think is wholesome and godly but is not.

St. Paul put this in practical terms of excelling: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love Jesus and the saints have for us. Every respect includes excelling in generosity, supplying others’ needs, in Paul’s language.

Even more practical are the many ways that Gesu Parish and School assist us throughout our development to live our faith. Those many, varied ways help you and me to keep hearing Jesus address our hearts; to keep touching him; and to keep drawing others close to him and to his recreating love.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week pause in the love and light of our triune God. Ask the unnamed woman in the gospel to present you to Jesus. With her to help you, draw close to Jesus, and speak clearly to Jesus about what surrounds your heart or pours from it. Ask Jesus to embolden you to draw near to him—even to run to Jesus—so that Jesus may renew your life. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus gave us to praise God for rescuing us, and to allow God to provide for us and to change[ our] mourning into dancing. Jesus’ prayer takes courage: courage to praise God; and courage to allow God to transform our lives to be ever more wholesome and brimming with faith.

1. The Greek verb specifies what “comes to one’s ears.”
2. Romans 10.17.
Wiki-image by Michael Manas of Jairus and the woman touching Jesus' cloak is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license. Wiki-image by Yoruno of a blessing Jesus is used according the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

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