Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Book of Wisdom is the source of the first reading. When this book originally was written, the plight of God’s people was not good. They had experienced very much 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, if they retained their ethnic and religious identity, they were virtual outcasts.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the obviously devout author of Wisdom took pains to insist that “God does not make death.” 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 may mean that time is required for the ship of human life to right itself when struck by the strong waves of evil, but the ship will right itself because God’s justice ultimately will prevail.
St. Paul’s Second Letter 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 stored in vaults, but rather it 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 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.
Always in the Scripture, religious devotion aided a person. Faith illuminated the mind. Faith eased the way for wisdom. So, in his personal goodness and in his 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 around. Everyone saw her recovery. It was not imaginary.
In the second story, a woman with a chronic hemorrhage approaches Jesus.
Discreetly, the Gospel does not precisely describe the hemorrhage. But if it was gynecological in nature, as likely it was, she was by this fact ritually unclear. This factor set her apart, distanced, 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.
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.
The readings also remind us of faith. Faith is the golden thread connecting the people of old who remained loyal to God, the saints of Paul’s time, Jairus and the woman whom Jesus healed.
Left to ourselves, our priorities easily can be confused. St. Mark’s Gospel tells us that at times we may be helpless in the face of circumstances, but God does not desert us.
We are never doomed, if we chose not to be doomed, if we hold onto the Lord.
He heals us of fear and despair. He gives us peace.
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