WISDOM 1:13-15, 2:23-24; PSALM 30; 2CORINTHIANS 8:7, 9, 13-15; MARK 5:21-43
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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai
CHRIST HEALS AND SAVES
Our readings today present us with the God of life. God has power over life and death. No man can create life – only God can. He manifested this power in the first reading, God is always on the side of life and he wants us to live. Death was not created by God; but it is a consequence of sin. In the Gospel, we are presented with two miracles that demonstrated Christ’s power over life and death. Christ heals the woman with haemorrhage and restores Jarius’ daughter back to life. This is a challenge for us to express faith in Jesus, promote life, care for the hungry and care for the sick. St Paul reminds us in the second reading that we should share what we have with those who are in need. If we don’t share we cannot grow. Let us look at other divine insights from both miracles.
The first miracle: This was done on Jesus’ way to the house of Jarius. This is an indication that our work of healing and witnessing is not limited by time and space. We are to heal every time and everywhere. There is no time-out in witnessing. As Christians, to witness is our business. Regardless of where we find ourselves, we can witness. If you cannot heal the sick, care for the sick, if you cannot feed the hungry help the lonely and the aged to draw water from the well and if you cannot preach, practice. Beloved, God wants us to be his saving and healing presence in the world today. Be a pro-lifer; the first reading says God does not delight in the death of the living. Stop abortion, cease fire, stop killing. The story of Chidinma recently on the media is a lesson for all of us; don’t sponsor evil; don’t finance immoralities rather finance life and promote virtuous living. God have mercy on us!
Again, the woman in question has been suffering from hemorrhage for 12 years. She had endured much under many physicians and had spent all that she had but her situation grew worse. In fact scholarly conjecture has it that no fewer than eleven cures for such a trouble yet her bleeding exacerbated. Jewish literature is interesting on the subject of doctors for example Tobit 2:10 says “I went to physicians to be healed, but the more they treated me with ointments the more my vision was obscured by the white films, until I became completely blind” So the Jews believe that physicians care but healing is from the Most High – the God of life. With Physicians she grew worse; with Jesus she became better. Have you ever been in a situation where you have spent so much on an ailment yet there is no improvement? Have you ever visited experts yet they appeared so daft? Beloved, human knowledge is limited; resort to Jesus. Jesus was her last resort that brought her best result. In the hemorrhaging or bleeding nature of our lives and society today it is not too late to resort to Jesus for the best result.
Like this woman we must understand that we are not just to crowd but to touch. There is difference between crowding round Jesus and touching him. We may crowd round Jesus when we say our prayers, when we gather in adoration centers, when we gather at mass; we crowd him when we say “Lord, Lord…and don’t do his will” (Mt. 7:21). On many occasions we crowd round Jesus but we don’t touch him. When we crowd, we are clouded; but when we touch we are cleansed. Touching comes from active participation. The woman having lost all faith in medicine found medicine in faith; through active participation amongst the crowd. The Lord’s ‘discharge’ of power ends her ‘discharge’. Beloved, the only way you can touch Jesus and be touched is to be an active participant and not a mere follower. Sacrosanctum Concilium no.14 says “active participation is an indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.”
The second miracle: This miracle presents us with the restoration of Jarius’ daughter. Jesus has power over life and death. He has healing power but if we don’t approach him in faith we may not testify. Again, Jarius was almost distracted when he got the news that he shouldn’t trouble Jesus further his daughter has passed on. Oftentimes, when we are close to our miracles we tend to see more distractions. Do not be distracted; achievers are focused people. If we must achieve we must resist distractions. More so, Jarius’ neighbuors brought the bad news of his daughter’s death but Jesus gave him the good news “Do not fear, only believe” (Mk. 5:36). With Jesus there is no hopeless situation. Beloved, in the gradual death of the nation today, let others report bad news; we shall share the Good News. Beloved, “do not fear, only believe.” If will believe we shall not die in our hemorrhaging nature not matter how long it takes. If we believe we shall be restored back to life and grace. Lord, have mercy and help us.
LET US PRAY
O God, who through the grace of adoption chose us to be children of light, grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Fr. Evaristus Okeke
THE POWER OF JESUS OVER DEATH
“ O Lord, you have lifted my soul from the grave… ”(Ps.30:3a)
The readings of today are centered on life and death. A common definition of death is: that tragic phenomenon which happens once to man and brings his earthly existence to an end. Today’s liturgy improves this understanding from different perspectives and consequently presents different manifestations of Christ’s power over death. The theme of the liturgy is that our God who life Himself, has conquered death. Saint Irenaeus beautifully asserts that it is impossible to live without life, and the actualization of life come from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.
In the gospel reading, the solution to death is presented as connection with God. Whenever something or someone is disconnected from God, it cannot have life because Jesus tells us in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me”. The ruler of the synagogue seemed to understand this fact when he approached Jesus with a case of an emergence: “My little daughter is at the point of death”. For him, if Jesus should get involved in the situation, the daughter will not die. If the story was to end there, one will not find it difficult to guess Jesus’ response. Since Jesus saves and loves little children, he would hurriedly follow this synagogue ruler to his house.
However, Jesus’ attention to the touch of the woman who has suffered haemorrhage for 12 years, suggests that he was not in a hurry. The woman does not seem to be at the point of death; besides, being God, Jesus could have been able to get her identity without asking. Yet, Jesus took time to ask who touched him and to attend to her. To make matter worse, “while he (Jesus) was still speaking, there came some from the ruler’s house who said to the ruler, ‘your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’”. This statement expresses the understanding the ruler and his household had of Jesus: He is only a healer.
Jesus perceived this understanding from the very moment the ruler met him and he sought to boost it. Hence, Jesus’ seemingly delay, on the one hand, was geared towards teaching the people who he really is. There was no need for him to hurry because he could not only heal the sick, he could also raise the dead. He expressed this when he said: “the child is not dead but sleeping”. On the other hand, Jesus’ attention to the woman clearly teaches that Jesus, being God, is truly omnipotent. He is able to attend to each and every one of us at the same time; out of the abundance of His glory. He is never too busy or stressed-out to meet our needs. Population is never a challenge for the Almighty.
We need to encounter Jesus on personal basis in order to experience the life he has in store for each one of us. The woman in the gospel have passed through many physicians and spent so much. Before meeting these physicians, she must have first heard of them. But there was something different she felt when she heard about Jesus. Although numerous appointments and treatments have failed, she was convinced that, based on what she has heard about this man called Jesus, a simple touch of His garment is able to bring her the desired healing. What a faith! The woman approached Jesus with a deeper understanding of who Jesus is.
Beloved in Christ, this woman is a model for each and every one of us who daily participate at the Eucharistic banquet. At Mass, we first hear of Jesus when the readings are read. Does this experience move us to want to touch Him personally at the reception of Holy Communion?
From another perspective, the liturgy of today presents us with another dimension of death. Now, is it the case that after the woman touched Jesus, she was never sick again? Or could it be that the ruler’s daughter, having been raised from the dead, never died again? No! This brings us to the focus of the first reading. Jesus is able to save us in this world, but more importantly, he wants to save us for eternity. God created man for incorruption meaning that man is immortal and so cannot really die and be annihilated. Therefore, the worse experience of death is not to be with God in the world after. Because the soul is immortal, to be in hell is to be doomed forever. This is the kind of death Jesus wants to really save us from.
Apart from touching Jesus personally in our day to day life, St. Paul tells us in the second reading that leaving charitably with one another is an effective way of eradicating death from our midst. This means giving from your abundance and receiving from the abundance of others. When we give from our abundance, we become Jesus who allowed others to encounter him that they may have life. When we receive from the abundance of others, we become the ruler and the woman who humbled themselves to encounter Jesus that they may have life. God Bless You!
Fr. Paul Oredipe
“Do not be afraid, only have faith” – “Do not fear, only believe”
“Do not be afraid, only have faith” – “Do not fear, only believe.”
In fact, the New St. Joseph Sunday Missal puts it: “fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”
Today, we are given a gift and responsibility. We are called to dispel fear and embrace trust in a person and power beyond us. We are called to authentic and mature faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In our readings today, we find two people who have been told that there is nothing that can be done. The first is the woman with the hemorrhage. She has been going to doctors of every sort for years. Everything has been tried. She still is not cured and now all of her money is gone too.
The second story started out hopefully. Jairus comes to the Lord and asks Him to come and heal his daughter. Jesus sets out for the house. But, before He gets there, the girl has died and the people in the house told Jairus that there is nothing further that can be done.
In both cases, it would have been reasonable for the people to accept that fact. But they did not. Both could have given up and gone their different ways keepings this secret to themselves. Jesus does not allow that to happen.
Our greatest motivation for faith has to be our belief in the resurrection of the dead. In the Gospel, the servants reported to Jairus: “Your daughter is dead.” However, to Jesus, she was merely asleep. Christ raises her from the dead to show to the world that He has power over life and death.
This should only increase our faith in the resurrection, knowing that someday we must die, but that we will rise again. We are to become co-heirs with Christ and share in the inheritance of everlasting life.
Therefore, we must live our lives in the true friendship of Christ. We must strengthen our faith in Him and strive to live according to His ways.
The two models of faith, both imperfect but open to growth, presented in the Gospel reading, Jairus and the woman, came to Jesus as a last report. Their hearts are not centered on God but on their own needs. They approached Jesus to get something from Him rather than to become His disciples.
Jesus does not condemn or scorn their self-centered and superstitious attitude that sees Him as wonder-worker and healer, rather than as revealer of divine love.
Instead, Jesus responds to their overwhelming sense of need as they present it to Him, thereby removing this obstacle to their growth in faith. In both instances, Jesus explicitly turns their sense of need into faith (vv 34, and 36), and both miracles free those affected not only from the bonds of evil, but for fullness of life (vv 34, 42).
The lesson is that faith makes us overcome evil; fear makes us succumb to it. Faith for this woman and this leader is a power that makes this happen. Jesus is acknowledging and encouraging that kind of faith. And the same is true for us today. Faith is also a power and can often make very special things happen.
Through her efforts and searches, the woman is a symbol of perseverance, struggle, fidelity, humility, piety and devotion. But above all, she is a symbol of weakness and misery. Jesus restored her to life after she had exhausted all in her power and means. Even though she had been to all places for healing, she really had been nowhere until she came to the right place and the right person, Jesus.
It is her faith in Jesus, her willigness to accept Him for what He claims to be, that makes her whole. She is saved not just in the sense of being healed, but in a deeper sense of finding true life. What does this tell and teach us? We must strive in faith to obtain graces too. God’s grace us waiting to happen. It just needs the faith we see in this woman of the Gospel who sought out Christ and believed in His power.
If closeness to Christ does not bring about radical changes in our lives, it means that we are like the crowd. We throng all around Him, without ever touching Him with faith; our contact remains external and superficial; His Word is just a sound entering our ears but not penetrating our hearts and transforming our lives.
The two episodes in today’s Gospel can be told under one common title, the faith that saves. One needs a great faith to believe that Jesus can heal, but much more is needed to accept that He can solve situations humanly impossible to correct.
Faith calls us out of ourselves; it calls us to leave us to leave behind own familiar land – whose limits we know, whose security we feel – to go towards a place God will show us. It is not only the adherence to what is revealed, but also moves us to be attentive to the opportunities to love and serve, to be constantly thoughtful of others. Our determination to do so must come from our faith, because faith makes us reach beyond the level of purely human affairs.
Passion is the fuel of faithfulness and the source of success. It is the enthusiasm towards the accomplishment of a goal. There is not an enduring success without a passionate pursuit. Passion for excellence is the power that fuels great performances.
Saint Paul was passionate in his pastoral ministry. He was a paradigm of pastoral passion in his priestly life full of pastoral charity. The opposite of passion are indifference, apathy, despondency, coldness, lack of interest, complacency and mediocrity. It has been rightly observed by some that the problem is not priest-shortage but zeal-shortage.
Furthermore, some danger-signals or hints have been identified as flickering the flame and fading the zeal of our priestly life and ministry.
Remember the happy moments and hard times too, remember those temptations and gave concerns that came your way at different turns of your life. But I know, as well as you do, that all the experiences and events have made you what you are today – men and women who have gone through thick and thin, and have emerged amiable and admirable candidates.
As you go on in life, always be on guard and remember you carry the name of Christ on yourselves.
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become action.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you … stay faithfully and be grateful.
So I say to you once more in the words of Christ, “so there is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.”
We come here to celebrate our faith in God and God’s faith in us. And if that is true, then we should leave this Church as confident people – confident not only in what God can do, but confident in the power of faith. It is the faith that Jesus encouraged in the Gospel and it is the faith that is so often needed in life’s situations today. Real faith, authentic faith and mature faith; the faith that sees the invisible; the faith that believes the unbelievable; the faith that receives the impossible.
Our prayer for you today and always is summed up in the following words; may you have
Enough happiness, to keep you sweet,
Enough trials, to keep you strong,
Enough sorrow, to keep you human,
Enough hope, to keep you happy,
Enough failure, to keep you humble,
Enough success, to keep you eager,
Enough friends, to give you comfort,
Enough wealth, to meet your needs,
Enough enthusiasm, to look forward,
Enough faith, to banish depression,
Enough determination, to make each day better than yesterday.
“Fare thee well and if forever, still forever, fare thee well” may God bless you and may He watch over you and provide for you abundantly in your ministry through Christ our Lord. Amen
And for all of us, may the amazing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the everlasting love of God, the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever. Amen