13 Sunday - B-Several Homilies - July1

13 Ordinary Time Sunday July 1

 Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Several years ago I caught a revival of the nineteenth century A Doll's House by the incomparable master Henrik Ibsen in New York City. The director was the great Ingmar Bergman. Ibsen has his protagonist Nora rejecting out of hand the stereotype of being "just" a wife and mother. She says to her chauvinist husband, "I don't believe that any more. I am a human being - just like you." For almost a century, historians have hailed Ibsen as a pioneering fellow in the area of women's rights. What short memories they have! For nineteen centuries before Ibsen there was a Man named Jesus. The woman cured of the hemorrhage was much admired in the early Church. The early historian Eusebius tells us a statue of her was erected at the miracle's site in Caesarea in northeastern Palestine. Perhaps it was set up by early feminists. It remained there to the fourth century. The Roman Emperor Justinian, who was not a friend of things Christian, destroyed it. Very modestly he put up one of himself. However, God and women both got even. Justinian lived to see his likeness destroyed by lightning. No doubt he got the message.

Contemporary feminists contend that while women have come a long way, they still have a long way to go. That is no doubt true. But what is absolutely certain is that women in the time of the Christ were considered less than nothing. The rabbis of the time, for example, suggested men should pray daily that they were not born as women. The "weaker sex" had two purposes - giving men pleasure in sex and raising children. The "little woman" could be divorced at the slightest pretext. Justifiable reasons would be cooking her man's three minute egg for four minutes or making dirty looks, however justifiable, at her mother-in-law. I think you get the picture. A written note of dismissal and the woman was out on the street wondering what hit her. Yet, even the Emperor Justinian himself could not point to one Gospel text suggesting that the Nazarene looked upon women as beneath men in any form or way. And, given the atmosphere of the time, this point is nothing short of extraordinary. Isn't it amazing what a large part women play in the Gospels? A large number of Christ's miracles are centered about women. Think of the woman cured of a hemorrhage in today's Gospel. And do not forget His kindness to the widow of Naim or bringing today's little girl back to life with His Aramaic command,"Talitha cumi."
Recall too the parables that reveal how much Jesus knew about the humdrum affairs of a woman's life. How about Him telling us of the women working yeast into three measures of flour or the distraught woman sweeping out her house in a panic to find a discount coupon at her friendly neighborhood supermarket?  To add icing to the cake, scholars consider that distraught woman as a stand-in for God.
Jesus' references to the home and its details must have charmed and delighted women every bit as much as it must have infuriated their men. But the Master did not run scared. Then there was the occasion when the woman shouted at Jesus, "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that suckled you." This was reducing women to that tired stereotype - breasts and genitalia. The Saviour rejects such banality with curt words. "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it." One suspects that woman never spoke that way again. Perhaps Ibsen got his central idea for A Doll's House from Luke 11,27.
Women never forgot His kindness to them. They repaid Him in the most difficult times of His life. No woman was a hostile during the Passion. Even Mrs Pilate begged her husband to spare His life. On the Via Dolorosa, a woman courageously stepped out of that angry mob to wipe the sweat and spit off His face. Aside from a teen-age boy, women were the only ones who dared to go up to the very crucifixion itself. We men developed serious back trouble. A yellow line ran smack down our spinal cords. Perhaps the spiritual "Where Were You When They Crucified My Lord?" was originally directed to us men.

 Today's women do not forget Him either. Christian feminists in Peru have named their organization, Talita Cumi. What is my attitude to women? What is the attitude of every man and boy here? If it doesn't match that of Jesus, we better do an about face and get the show on the road.


 Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino

13 Ordinary Time

Thirteenth Sunday: The Compassionate Lord

Jairus, the Synagogue official was in a panic.  His little 12 year old daughter was dying.  The worst possible thing a parent can experience was about to take place. He pleaded with Jesus.  Jesus rushed with him to care for the girl.
But there is a crowd he had to get through.  In Mark, there is always a crowd pressing on the Lord.  The lady with the hemorrhage was there.  She touched Jesus in faith, and Jesus felt power flowing out of Him to heal the woman.  Jesus was not put off by her condition.  The pharisees and Temple leaders would consider her unclean and anyone who touched her, or was touched by her, defiled.  Jesus wasn’t interested in that.  Mark emphasized that the poor woman had suffered for years at the hands of many doctors who did horrible things to her and demanded whatever money she had.  She was still suffering.  Jesus saw her and felt for her.  She was a good woman, a woman of faith who was putting her last hope in Him.  He didn’t see the ailment.  He saw the person. And He healed her.  What a beautiful story of compassion.
But that is just part of the reading.  The little girl was the main reason for Jesus’ rushing away.  “She’s dead,” people said to Jairus.  I can imagine the man, as any father, screaming in grief.  “Do not be afraid, just have faith,” Jesus told the man. The people at the house mocked Jesus when said, “She is not dead, but asleep.” Jesus goes into the room along with three disciples, Peter, James and John, and the terrified parents.  He raised the girl up, and then, in one of the warmest moments in the gospels, He turned to the parents and said, “She’s hungry.  Give her something to eat.”  The Savior of the world, the Second Person of the Trinity, tells the parents to resume caring for their child.
A defiled lady, a dead child, and our Compassionate Savior.  His care, love and healing were far more powerful than the prohibitions of Jewish law, far more powerful than the forces of nature, and far more powerful than the forces of death.
There are two ways that we can consider this gospel reading. We can and should look at these healings from the viewpoint of our own needs and those of our family and ask the Lord for healing.  That is certainly valid.  “Ask, and you shall receive,” the Lord said.  We can ask the Lord and receive His care.  Many of our doctors and nurses will tell you about the times that they are convinced that a person was healed more by prayers than by medicine.  Actually, the prayerful doctor, nurse or medical professional, allows the healing hands of the Lord to work through her or him as they use their intelligence and skill.  Still, there is no question but that God does heal people.  There are shrines throughout the world with crutches and stories of miraculous healing.  There are many people who have been told by their doctors that it is a miracle they are alive. It is perfectly reasonable for people of faith to call upon the Lord for healing and to be healed.
The second way we can and should also look on these healing from the viewpoint of the Lord. We are called to be followers of Christ.  We are called to love as He loves.  We are called to have compassion for the hurting.  We are not called to judge the cause of their pain.  We are called to care for them.  And yet, sadly, some of us will say that a person’s condition is his or her own fault and then move on and away from them.  So many see the cause of the sickness and not the sick people.  Do those sick due to their own sinfulness merit less care from us than other people?  Of course not.  At least, not if we are followers of Christ.  Some people may now be sick, but have always been difficult.  These are the relatives, neighbors or business associates we are required to see and to endure.  And now they need our help.  It is not easy putting up with their comments. It is easy to ignore them.  Yes, they are a pain, but they are also in pain.

A long time ago, when I was in my last years of theology, I took a course on pastoral care for the sick.  Since I was with the Salesians of St. John Bosco  at the time and since the Salesians work with children, I took the course at the local Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  One of the first patients I had to learn how to care for was a young teenage boy with leukemia. He was not nice.  I was assigned to him because he told the hospital chaplain to get out of his room.  He ignored most people who  visited him.  I would enter his room, and he would make believe that I wasn’t there.   He wouldn’t even respond to a simple hello, or answer questions like, “Would you like me to bring you communion?”   There were those on the hospital staff who avoided his room.  He was too difficult. They didn’t see his pain. They saw him as a pain. But most of us were not  concerned with his attitude.  We were all more concerned about caring for him in his pain, not just his physical pain, but his emotional pain and his spiritual pain.  It took weeks and a lot of really corny jokes,  but after a while he warmed up to me and let me help him.  As his body deteriorated, he actually became a better Teen. When he died, there was no one who remembered the negative attitude.  We remembered him saying to the TV set during the president’s inauguration, “He should wear a hat.  We need our president.” He passed away shortly after that, but first he found a way to give farewell presents to his parents and his little brother and sister. His mother went on to become a pediatric oncology nurse herself.  Her son was cured, not cured from the cancer, but cured from his own emotional and spiritual pain.  And his cure continues through  those who saw him sprint to the finish line of his life as a victor over death.

When we get upset over how someone who is hurting is treating us, then we are more concerned about ourselves than we are concerned about that person who is hurting so much.  That wasn’t the way Jesus reacted to the sick.  He didn’t care if the woman had a situation which would have caused the temple priests to call Him defiled.  He didn’t care if curing a person would get Him in trouble with the authorities if that cure was on the Sabbath.  He didn’t care of He had to drop everything and rush to the bedside of what the world would see as an insignificant little girl, enduring mockery in the process.

Jesus only was only concerned about those who hurt and who needed his healing.  How can we be any different and still call ourselves His followers?
Homily from Father Phil Bloom

* available in Spanish - see Spanish homilies

13 Ordinary Time
Bottom line: May America continue to be a place where people can, as St. Paul says, "excel in every respect."
In these days before the Fourth of July, our bishops have asked to pray, study and thank God for the gift of freedom - particularly religious freedom, which is under attack in our world and even in our own country.

 In this homily I will focus on the relationship between freedom and faith - or, to be more concrete, democracy and religion. As we saw last Sunday, our first president, George Washington, considered religion an "indispensable support" for the democratic experiment. There are three reasons for this:

First, religion (specifically the Christian religion) calls a person to repentance: to turn from self-indulgence and to embrace habits of virtue - honesty, fairness, hard work, generosity, self-control and so on. Our founding fathers envisioned a "Republic of Virtue" because they knew that democracy can only survive if the majority of citizens strive for virtue.

 The second way religion supports democracy is by calling people to work together. We will see more about solidarity when I get to the body of today's homily.

The third indispensable support is the most difficult: Religion, Christian faith, teaches us to push back, to resist when government overreaches. Our bishops have identified seven areas where national and state governments are attacking freedom of religion.* They invite us to join with them in pushing back.

So, religion supports democracy by promoting virtue and solidarity - and by resistance to unjust laws. Today's second reading relates to virtue and resistance, but it does it by focusing on solidarity.

 You might smile when I say this, but in the second reading what we see is St. Paul taking up a collection! If you sat down and read all of St. Paul's letters, you might be surprised how much time he devotes to collections. Specifically he asks the more prosperous "Europeans" (Corinthians, Romans, Macedonians, Celts, etc.) to aid the poor in the "mother church" - Jerusalem and Judea.

 When you think about it, a collection is a political statement. It says that we are an association apart from the government - and that we are not we are not waiting for the government to solve our problems. We can work together. And we belong to a Body that has a right to exist not from the government, but from God himself.
We can see this in the way St. Paul motivates the Corinthians to give. He asks them to focus on Jesus. He was rich, says Paul, but he made himself poor. Why? "So that by his poverty you might become rich."
Jesus is God. His being contains all the wealth of the universe and more, but he divested himself to become one of us - limited by time and space, subject to misfortune and mistreatment. He does this so that we can become rich, that is, participate in God's nature as adopted sons and daughters.
That thought might make one a little dizzy, but Paul brings it down to earth: If God is so generous to us, should we not be generous to others? Paul doesn't ask anyone to go overboard - for example, to sell one's home. He does, however, appeal for a certain equality. He quotes Exodus: "Whoever had much did not have more and who have little did not have less." If we focus on God, things have a way of leveling out.
The generosity of St. Mary parishioners has impressed me. You have admirably supported our parish, even in difficult times. Not only have you shared financial resources, but also time and abilities. You have made possible a wonderful mission here and beyond. You have supported parish groups such as St. Vincent de Paul and the Knights of Columbus. You've given to special projects such as World Youth Day and our new bell tower. You've reached out to help Catholic Charities, the Archdiocesan Appeal and the work of the Holy Father.**
By your Stewardship of time, talent and treasure, you are making a powerful statement. You are saying that you want to be pro-active - and not leave the job to the next guy or to the government. You desire to do your part, to live what St. Paul says today, "excel in every respect." You have given yourself and in the process you have been blessed.
One of the beautiful things about democracy is that it encourages people to excel. For all its problems, mistakes and failures, this is a good country - and you and I are grateful to be part of. People throughout the world want to come here. A few years back in Peru they surveyed young people about their dreams. They mentioned things like becoming a professional or having their own business. But do you know what dream came in first place? To come to the United States.
People see in our country a place where we can (as St. Paul says) excel in every respect. We have a beautiful country, but we could lose it. That why we need to return to religion. It provides an indispensable support because: 1) it calls us to repentance - that difficult word, virtue; 2) it promotes solidarity - not waiting for the government but solving problems on the smallest possible level and 3) when government makes unjust laws, to push back or resist.
Virtue, solidarity and resistance: St. Paul illustrates them in a surprising way - by taking up a collection. It's a way of saying that we don't sit back, but dive in to solve problems. We have a society with much freedom to act on our own. We are grateful to God for the freedoms we enjoy. When government encroaches on those freedoms - particularly freedom of religion - we join our bishops in pushing back. May America continue to be a place where people can, as St. Paul says, excel in every respect. Amen.

*The most notorious example is the HHS mandate. How a homilist speaks about it obviously depends on what the Supreme does or does not do this week. The bishops have online homilies that addresses the issue:
"the mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires employers, including Catholic institutions, to violate the moral law by providing contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans.
"Less noticed, but equally offensive to both Catholic doctrine and the constitution, is the determination by the government of what constitutes a religious institution. The HHS mandate grants an exemption to parishes, but it defines religious institutions in such a narrow way that it excludes, for example, Catholic universities, hospitals, food pantries, publishing houses, and social services.

 "According to the HHS definition, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of Columbus wouldn’t qualify as religious institutions! Indeed, according to the federal rule, if we serve people who are not Catholic in our agencies, or educate them in our universities, or employ them in our institutions – we cease to be religious. If we provide for the needs of the sick and the poor, but don’t ask whether they are Catholic or teach them catechism – we are not religious.
"It is an absurd position and a clear violation of the Bill of Rights. Our first freedom is religious liberty, and the First Amendment explicitly forbids the government from establishing religion, which means that a government department doesn’t get to decide what religion is, and what the proper work of the Church is.
"In our second reading, Saint Paul gives us a picture of how the early Christians lived. Those who had abundance shared with those who were in need. The early Church lived this way because Jesus Himself, though He was rich, became poor for our sake. All of our vast charitable works, including health care, social services and education, exist because of our faith in Jesus Christ! They are not optional extras, but essential.
"As Catholics we care for the poor, the sick, the immigrant, the unemployed, the orphan, the expectant mother in distress, because of our faith. It is the necessary fruit of faith, and without it faith is dead (cf. James 2:26). The government has instead claimed the right to restrict our religious life to the liturgy and doctrine. That is what is at stake in this great battle for religious liberty.

 "Pope Benedict XVI, in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, reminded us that the works of charity are as essential for the Church’s mission as is preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments.2 The Catholic Church can no more abandon the sick in our hospitals or the immigrant at the border than she can set aside the Word of God, or the Holy Mass.
"We cannot separate the fruits of faith from the faith itself. The tree that does not bear good fruit is condemned by Jesus (cf. Matthew 7:18-20). To definitively separate the fruit from the roots is to cut the tree down. In the garden of American liberty, the government may not cut down the tree of faith."

**Note to fellow homilists: You should have no trouble adapting this paragraph to your own parish. 


 Homily from Father Cusick Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

13 Ordinary Time

THIRTEENTH Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1, 13-15; 2, 23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8: 7. 9. 13-15; St. Mark 5: 21-43

 Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Jesus' raising the dead to life was remarkable, his healing of the woman afflicted with a hemorrhage was remarkable, but the prophets had also healed the sick, the blind and the lame and the prophets had also raised the dead. These raisings and healings were a return to or restoration of earthly existence only. There is something more offered to us in Jesus that sets him completely apart as the Christ. Just as it was so for the prophets, so with Christ, these miraculous events are signs only of something far more marvelous: eternal life. Our resurrection will be possible only in and with the divine person: Jesus Christ. We must be in bodily union with him if we wish to be raised from the dead to the glorified state of resurrection as he was.
Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: 'I am the Resurrection and the life." (John 11:25) It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. (Cf. John 5: 24-25; 6:40, 54.) Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, (Cf. Mark 5:21-42; Luke 7: 11-17; John 11) announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique as the 'sign of Jonah,' (Matthew 12:39) the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day. (Cf. Mark 10:34; John 2: 19-22) (CCC 994)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick (Publish with permission.)

(Publish with permission.)



 Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS

13 Ordinary Time

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is one of those Gospel stories that couldn’t have been invented. No writer, no mater how skilful, could have woven a story so full of such characteristically human reactions. It has what we can only call the ring of truth.

 Jairus, an important synagogue official, puts aside all the usual official prejudices against the wandering preacher Jesus and goes to him, even falling down before Jesus, to beg for the life of his daughter.
Sickness and death have a way of shearing through the veneer of our self-importance and social status. These things touch us at our most vulnerable point. Sickness and death strip us of our illusions and remind us that, no matter how important we are in the eyes of others, we are still human—still very limited and transient citizens here on earth.
 Notice the brutal directness used by those telling Jairus about his daughter’s death—you’ve no need to trouble the Master any more, she’s dead. They are like the apostles in the boat, who doubt Jesus’ ability to calm the storm.
Yes he can perform miracles with bread and fish like a magician and perform healings like a clever doctor, but raise the dead—no way!
In this Gospel account we also see the deep and genuine warmth of Jesus—his goodness and loving kindness. Look at his touching concern for Jairus’ faith—don’t be afraid, only have faith—what warm and supportive words!
Jesus was a true healer, a bringer of hope; he goes into the house among all those wailing women and says with a touch of humour—what’s all this commotion? But then when he meets their lack of faith he becomes momentarily stern and swiftly expels the unbelievers from the room.
 In the company of her father and mother and a few believers, Jesus lifts the little girl up and restores her to life. This simple little action of lifting up the girl has tremendous significance if we think of that young girl as representative of all women. Contrary to popular belief Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, has over the centuries consistently lifted women up.

Just because the priesthood has never been open to women persistent and carping critics think that the Church is against women. It is obvious that they know nothing of history and care even less—they are more interested in polemic than truth.

    * They have no appreciation for the significant role of Mary—most blessed among all human beings;

    * they know nothing of the saints and martyrs—far more women than men;

    * they never heard of the extraordinary work of the Church over many centuries in the education of women when no one else was bothering;

    * they didn’t read about the importance of women in the early years of the Church—especially those recorded in the Acts of the Apostles;

    * they have never heard of great saints like Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen—never afraid to put popes and other self-important ecclesiastics in their place;

     * they are ignorant of the fact that just recently four women have been given one of the highest titles in Catholicism, Doctor of the Church;

     * they don’t know that there are more nuns than priests working in the Church

    * nor are they aware that there are far more women believers than men.
In Christianity women have always been the equal of men; this is not so in all religions. It doesn’t mean to say that women have not been oppressed within the Church but that there is no scriptural, doctrinal, or structural basis to such oppression.

On the contrary the Church, when it has been true to itself and not subject to external influence or custom, has done just what Jesus did to that little girl; it lifts up women to their full status. It was the secular world that put women in a subservient role and this did influence the Church, but the Church of its nature is not oppressive to women.

This is not to say that the Church as an institution is entirely without blame in this regard —there are structures and attitudes that need attention and we still have a lot of work to do especially to make it absolutely clear that the Church is not prejudicial towards women.

The ordination of women is quite another question. There are two overriding issues here: 1) our concern always to be faithful to the tradition of the Apostles and our consequent reluctance to admit anything completely new.

We ought to be very cautious before thinking that two thousand years of uninterrupted tradition can be swiftly overthrown because of fairly recent pressure from exclusively western feminist groups which have no interest in or commitment to the Gospel.

And 2) is our concern for unity. We never want to introduce something that will cause disunity and division within the Church and there is no doubt that this is a very contentious area and one with deep cultural ramifications that would certainly cause deep division and which would undoubtedly result in schism.

To go back to the story, as he enters the house where the girl is lying Jesus says that she is only sleeping and this earns him the ridicule of the mourners. But this is precisely how Jesus regards death—it is a sleep from which he will wake us.

 Let me say a brief word about the woman who interrupts Jesus while he journeys to Jairus’ home. She seems to have been a person of means; how else, in such a poor society, could she have afforded “many doctors”?

Despite her wealth she would be considered ritually unclean because she had a haemorrhage. This forbade her from worshiping in the temple or the synagogue and required her to stay apart from the community so as not to subject others to ritual impurity.

How ironic that because she had been well-off she might probably have known the synagogue official Jairus in her past life, maybe she was even in the same social circle. But now, because of her illness, she was not now allowed to worship in the synagogue and had to keep away from him.

 Yet here with Jesus their human need has brought them together. They are both united in their need and in their faith in Jesus—just as we here today are united by our need for and our faith in Jesus.

Our superficial differences are set aside and together we reach out to touch him. And touch him we do in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine, his holy body and blood. He gives himself to us and promises us that in death we will be with him forever.

Jesus heals the sick and raises the dead to life. He heals each one of us from our sins and promises that on that day when our work is done and he finally draws us to himself he will raise us to that new, glorious and eternal life with him.