Sunday, July 01, 2012

Sunday word, 01 Jul 2012

Advantage of an Unnamed Woman
13th Sunday of the Year (01 Jul 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A word about miracles may help our reflection. Miracles “are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic.”1 Miracles invite rather than satisfy. Miracles invited faith in Jesus, and as we know, some who saw his miracles did not believe Jesus, and others opposed him. To invite faith does not mean miracles create faith. No; they strengthen faith already present. As the father of a possessed boy told Jesus, I do believe; help my unbelief;2 Jesus did by freeing the boy of possession.
Today’s gospel selection offers another view of faith, of belief. That father anguished at his son’s suffering; in today’s gospel a woman afflicted with hemorrhages anguished over her sufferings. She suffered physically; worrying, she suffered mentally as she saw her money used up, which no doubt increase her distress. Yet she had faith. Her words,“If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured,” demonstrated faith in Jesus before she tasted Jesus’ healing power. She was a flesh-and-blood challenge to the misunderstanding that miracles create the gift of faith
Skeptics might muse that surely she was on the fringe of one or another large crowd in which Jesus had performed a miracle. Skeptics would say, “She believed because she saw.” Scripture, though, doesn’t muse. It stated she had heard about Jesus. Her learning was one that came to her not from witnessing Jesus at another time.3 She had heard about Jesus.
Faith comes from hearing, St. Paul taught.4 We are hearers, who have never seen Jesus in the flesh. Our faith-hearing is more significant than we may think. The woman in today’s gospel reminds us of that. The fact that she is unnamed is to our advantage: we can easily lend our names to her experience: “When Gerald had heard about Jesus”; or, “When Jessica had heard about Jesus.”
That advantage is of great value, and not only when we may feel afflicted or when we suffer. That advantage aids our relationship with scripture: In whom and how 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, who vies for our allegiance. Hear it one more time.
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.
Christian living in all its drama as well as its silent eye in daily storms seeks to appropriate God’s desire and brighten the image of God’s…nature in ourselves. They begin by hearing and are deepened by discerning hearts, hearts which are 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 for us than the Apostle’s language are the many ways that Gesu Parish and its School offer many resources so we can develop and live our faith. Those resources are not recipes but helps for us in our ups and downs to keep hearing Jesus address our hearts; to keep reaching and 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.
  • In your words: 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 you.
  • 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 us to be ever more wholesome and brimming with God’s gift of faith.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 548.
  2. Mark 9.24.
  3. The Greek verb specifies what “comes to one’s ears.”
  4. Romans 10.17


Wiki-image of the healing of the woman who touched Jesus garb is in the public domain. Wiki-image by Navmulas of statue of St. Paul used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

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