Father Valan Arockiaswamy

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HOMILIES

Close Dear Audience,
For better understanding of the spiritual message behind this homily I kindly remind you to first read and contemplate the biblical texts before reading or listening to my preaching - a human reflection on the Word of God!

Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Jul 1, 2018 Views 220 Listen 7 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Wisdom (1:13-15; 2:23-24)

God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living. For He fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on Earth, for justice is undying. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of His own nature He made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (30:2, 5-6, 11, 12, 13)


(R) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

I will extol you, O Lord, for you drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit. (R)

Sing praise to the Lord, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, His good will. At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing. (R)

Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me; O Lord, be my helper. You changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (8:7, 9, 13-15)

Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (5:21-24, 35b-43)

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to Jesus, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, "Who touched me?"

And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" The girl, a child of twelve, arouse immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
(R) Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Homily

Mark recounts two healing stories in today's gospel. The first story is about a man named Jairus and the other is about an unnamed sick woman. Actually, one story comes in the middle of the other. The gospel text opens with Jesus by the sea side and a large crowd are around Him. Note that much of Jesus' ministry and most of his miracles took place around the Sea of Galilee, with most people following Him, largely because of His miracles.

While Jesus was with the people, Jairus came to Jesus. This man was one of the leaders of the local synagogue. It could very well be the synagogue in Capernaum. Describing the same set of events, Matthew in chapter 9 and Luke in chapter 8 mention that Jesus had returned to Capernaum, the town believed to have been Jesus' home and the centre of His ministry after leaving Nazareth, Matthew (4:13); Luke (4:31); Mark (1:21).

A synagogue is a place of worship and study of the scriptures for the Jews. This is not the same as the holy Temple where sacrifices were made. During the time of Jesus, there were synagogues all over Israel. Jewish people still meet and worship in synagogues today. As a leader of the synagogue, Jairus would have been a well-respected man of the community, with responsibilities for the temporal affairs of the synagogue and worship. He would have been accustomed to people falling to their knees before him, to plead their cases. Besides, the Jewish authorities were violently opposed to Jesus, and to be seen with Him could have been disastrous for Jairus.

But now putting aside his prejudices, dignity, pride and fear, and in utter desperation, Jairus came to Jesus and fell at His feet and pleaded with Him to come to his house because his daughter was seriously ill and "at the point of death". Jairus was helpless but not hopeless: his hope and trust was in the Lord Jesus. He believed that Jesus could heal her.

Touched by Jairus' humble and urgent plea Jesus proceeded to make his way to Jairus' house. But little did he know, as he and Jesus pushed their way through the crowd, that there was a woman in the crowd who needed Jesus just as much as he did and that she was also pushing through the crowd. She, unlike Jairus, was an unimportant, nameless, weak and poor woman. She had been suffering haemorrhages, that is, bleeding or the abnormal flow of blood from a damaged blood vessel.

Here, it is interesting to note this parallel: The dying girl was twelve years old and the woman had been sick for twelve years. The "number 12" is mentioned 187 times in the Bible. For instance, the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament states there were 12 sons of Jacob and those 12 sons formed the 12 tribes of Israel. The New Testament tells us that Jesus had 12 apostles. The Book of Revelation says that the kingdom of God has 12 gates and each gate is guarded by 12 angels, Revelation (21:12). The number 12 is used in many other contexts, and there are many significances tied to it. In most cases, it is thought to represent wholeness and the completion of God's purpose or God's power and authority.

The word "blood" appears over 350 times in the Bible. Often the word is used as a means of signifying violence or death, 2 Samuel (1:16), but in other places it speaks of life and atonement, Leviticus (17:11). The first time the word is mentioned in Genesis when God, responding to Cain's evasion after killing his brother Abel, says that He can hear the voice of Abel's blood crying out to Him, Genesis (4:10-11). In the Book of Exodus, God instructed the people of Israel to put blood on their doorposts in order for the angel of death to pass-over their homes and spare the lives of their first-born sons, Exodus (12:23). He also commanded the people to sacrifice animals to escape the punishment of sin, which ultimately is death in the old covenant, Leviticus (14:25); 2 Chronicles (29:22). And in the new covenant, Jesus is the worthy Lamb whose blood washed away the sin of God's people so that we may not perish but have ever lasting life, Revelation (12:11). In all these and many other cases, blood refers to life-like qualities.

Now according to Mark, after the woman had spent all her money on physicians, and no one was able to heal her, she realized Jesus was her only hope for healing, Mark (5:26). So, when she heard about Jesus, she sought Him. But she did not approach him as boldly as Jairus did. Instead, she slipped through the crowd surrounding Jesus and, on the belief that she would be healed just by touching His clothes, and she acted as she did. Some might wonder why she did not approach Jesus to ask for His help. Obviously, and foremost, she had the deep conviction that Jesus could cure her. Secondly, she did not want to be noticed and for good reasons.

According to the Jewish law, this woman's "bleeding" condition meant she was ceremonially unclean and an outcast, considered unfit to enter the synagogue, probably the same synagogue where Jairus was a leader, and forbidden to have any kind of physical contact with people. If she did, anyone she touched became unclean as well and would be required to go through an elaborate purification process before being allowed to re-enter the synagogue.

As soon as the woman touched Jesus, her bleeding stopped and she knew she was cured. And Jesus also knew what had happened. He felt that healing power had gone out from Him. He could have just let her touch Him and quietly keep moving onwards, for he would have known who had touched Him, but he didn't. He publicly put her on the spot even more by insisting He be told who had done it so that not only the healing which had taken place in secret would be made public and others may have faith through this woman's witnessing but also the woman could receive the full benefit of her healing. Her condition would certainly have caused not just severe physical pain but also great social, emotional and psychological pain for twelve years because of isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, despair, shame and fear. The healing, therefore, involved the need for forgiveness and restoration of the relationship with her community. Moreover, according to the purity laws of the Old Testament, she had to show evidence of her healing so she could be restored to all the purity and cleanness she had before, Leviticus (11-15).

When the woman realized that she could not remain hidden, she knelt trembling before Him and acknowledged what she did. But Jesus praising her faith, addressed her as His daughter and then said to her to "go in peace". This is the only time in the Scriptures that Jesus calls someone "daughter". In calling her "daughter," he welcomed her back into community as a member of God's family. And, in wishing her peace, Jesus restored her to perfect health of body, mind, and soul.

While Jesus was still speaking to the woman, Mark writes, the bad news arrived from Jairus's household that his daughter had already died and there was no need for Jesus to come. But, disregarding the message, Jesus said to Jairus not to be afraid and just have faith. Jairus was relieved, and they continued the journey to his house, accompanied by a large crowd of people. When they arrived at the house, Jesus took only Peter, James and John, the three disciples who would be with him later, at His transfiguration and during His anguish in the garden of Gethsemane prior to His arrest and crucifixion, Mark (9:2-8); Mark (14:32-42). Upon arriving at Jairus' home, Jesus found a gathering of people already wailing and mourning loudly. He said to them that the child is not dead but merely asleep. Jesus used the same word in connection with the death and resurrection of Lazarus, John (11). The Bible often uses the word sleep to refer to those who are dead, and so here, Jesus has spoken of death as a sleep from which He will awaken the sleeper.

Jesus, then, sent the people outside, went into the house with the child's parents and the disciples, took hold of the girl's hand and said, "Child, get up!" Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around; and He directed them to give her some food. It shows that the girl was not only raised from the dead, but also restored to perfect health.

What is the message for us?

At some time in our lives, we all could find ourselves in overwhelming situations that we do not know how to deal with. It might be a personal illness or life-threatening illness of a family member or unexpected death of a loved one or a case of serious depression. Just as the saying goes, "desperate times call for desperate measures"; hence, desperate situations call for desperate faith. Faith in itself is meaningless, but faith in the all-powerful God means everything.

Our Lord Jesus has demonstrated His power over evil spirits by casting out demons from the people that are "possessed", over natural elements by calming the waves and the wind during a violent storm, over bodily illnesses and diseases and death. He does the same for us if we truly seek Him, even in the most desperate times. He enters into our lives in our hopeless moments and brings us hope. He comes with His healing power when no healing is possible.

Faith is also believing that God will do what is right at the right time. Sometimes, He works the miracle of physical healing; sometimes, He brings the spiritual healing. He may not always come when we want Him to come, and He might not always answer our prayers the way we want Him to, but we must always be faithful and patient, know and believe that He will help us. Sometimes, He does what is right by not doing anything right away or by doing something other than what we want Him to do.

In times of desperation, and like Jairus and the woman, we have our Lord Jesus who does not ignore our plights nor turn away from us but who wants to hear from us and heal or save us or meet our needs. Hence, we do not have to be afraid; we just have to keep faith in Him. At the same time, let us approach Him in humility and truthfulness, for "He resists the proud but shows favour to the humble", James (4:6). Let us put aside all prejudices, embarrassment, social status in life or society or family, in order to receive the help, we so desperately need from Him: just as the Apostle Paul says, let us "have hope and be cheerful; be patient in trials and pray constantly", Romans (12:12).

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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