June 26, 2015

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

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Wisdom is the source of this weekend’s first reading. When this book originally was written, the plight of God’s people was not good. They had experienced many evils in their history. Among these experiences was the loss of their national independence, with an ongoing humiliation and misery.

Many had left the Holy Land to make new homes elsewhere. But in these new places, they were 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, God’s justice and goodness will prevail. It might mean that time is required for the ship of human life to be righted when struck by the strong waves of evil, but God will right the ship because his 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 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 certainly desperate. He feared that his daughter might die. As a synagogue official, he most likely was a religious man.

Religious devotion is always portrayed in the Scriptures as aiding a person. Faith illuminates the mind. Faith eases the way for wisdom. So in his personal goodness and religious devotion, Jairus was able to recognize the divine power within Jesus.

Jesus of course goes to the girl’s bedside and heals her. She rises and walks. Everyone saw her recovery. It was not imaginary.

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

Under the same rules, anyone whom she touched also was 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.

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

Reflection

These three readings all remind us that human reasoning can be flawed. 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.

It is easy to accuse God of “allowing” misfortune, even tragedies, to come.

Even good people can fail to see that hardships come not from God, but from nature or the evil acts of others.

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

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

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