July 1, 2018 — Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
In the Gospel Reading taken from the Book of Mark, Jesus says at one point, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” We have heard that put in so many ways, but for many of us it is somewhat difficult to grasp and accept. Yet it is the basic message of all of the Word of God and the words of the Lord Jesus that have been recounted to us.
The First Reading on this Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time comes from the Book of Wisdom. There was a time when this Book was called The Wisdom of Solomon. We have pointed out previously that the Book of Wisdom is part of what are called the wisdom books, which include Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, and Sirach. Even the meaning of “wisdom” is elusive. Obviously, the central theme is “wisdom” itself — wisdom as it applies to us and wisdom as it applies to God. One of the intentions is to make it clear that “wisdom” as it applies to us shows itself in action. This would seem to parallel what we believe about stewardship — that it shows itself in what we do, our actions, more so than in any other way.
This particular reading serves as a prelude for what is to come in the other readings. It maintains that the wisdom of God from the beginning was to prepare us for, and to gift us with eternal life. That is the great gift of our salvation thanks to the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. To know that is “wisdom.”
The underlying of St. Paul’s message in 2 Corinthians, from which our Second Reading comes, is the idea of giving. If wisdom involves understanding the need to give, it follows that there are reasons for that. There was some friction between Paul and the Corinthian community. Paul sent his follower Titus to hand carry this letter and present it to them, because Paul wanted Titus to be able to explain and enhance.
It appeared that the Corinthian Christians probably intended to give. They certainly thought about giving. They were responsive to the idea of giving. However, the toughest part was actually getting them to, in Paul’s words, “complete this grace.” That is true to many of us as well. We may understand what it means to be a good steward, and we may even be willing to live lives of stewardship, but the most difficult part is actually doing it.
Paul, and for that matter the Lord, too, is not “commanding” the Corinthians to give. Paul understands that giving out of a sense of commandment is not giving at all. We tend to call that kind of giving “taxation.” Paul rightfully points to Jesus as the ultimate example of giving. Paul says in this reading, “for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” Rich does not always mean having lots of assets or money in the bank. It means you have the wisdom to see that through Jesus’ promise to you, you are richer beyond imagination.
In the Gospel from Mark, Jesus shows us what “healing” and “wisdom” really are. Wisdom is one thing, but faith is another. Even the greatest of scholars, gifted with wisdom, are not always the holiest of people. There are two instances of healing in this Gospel, and they are very different. In the first mentioned, although not the first that occurred, Jesus is approached by a “synagogue official” with the request to heal his daughter, who was near death. His example shows us what we need to do for healing also. First, we must put ourselves in the presence of Jesus; next, we must humble ourselves before the Lord (note that this official “fell at his feet”). Third, we must make our request sincerely (“pleaded earnestly with him”); and finally, we must believe and have confidence in the Lord (“Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”).
However, before Jesus heals the daughter, He experiences a woman in need of healing. Because of her condition, she was considered “unclean” by others; in fact, if she touched anyone else or any part of their clothing, they, too, would be made unclean. With Jesus, that is not the way it works though. Because of the power of God, Jesus was not made “unclean,” but the woman was cured. “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
Note that the Lord called her “Daughter.” There is no other instance in all of Holy Scripture when Jesus calls someone by this name. Jesus wanted her to know that He had something special to give her. Jesus has something special to give to each of us also.
Next the Lord raises Jairus’ daughter from death. As quoted in the introduction, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jesus is saying two things to Jairus, and the same two things to us. Before Jairus and we can trust Jesus we need to put away our fears. To “have faith” is to believe. We do not have to figure everything out. Everything does not have to make sense to us. Jesus brings us all hope, just as He brought it to Jairus. And look what happened!