True love of God and neighbor in a world on life support “That we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error, but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.” (Collect, 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

This is a homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, year B.

Here are the readings for this homily.

First Reading Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
and there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the netherworld on earth,
for justice is undying.
For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who belong to his company experience it.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Second Reading 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Brothers and sisters:
As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality.
As it is written:
Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less.

Alleluia cf. 2 Timothy 1:10
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him,
and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to Jesus,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

40sacramentsIf you were paying attention to the Collect, the opening prayer, today, you heard me pray “that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error, but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.” (Collect, 13th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B) There are two opposing themes interwoven throughout today’s liturgy: light and dark, life and death, truth and falsehood, faith and fear, envy and love. I did not just list five themes after telling you two; rather, these are all expressions of the same theme, in short, good and evil.

“God did not make death…God formed man in the image of his won nature,” that is, love, “but by the envy of the devil, death entered the world.” (see Wis 1:13;2:24) The old Baltimore Catechism asks the question, “Why did God make us?” The answer the children were expected to memorize was “To know, love, and serve God in this life, so that we can be happy with Him in Heaven.” It is an essential truth of the Christian faith that all of creation is a free gift of God, a gift to express His love. And what is love? Love is simply a true desire for the best for another. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13) The word ‘love’ has been cheapened in the English language. We use the same word to express our relationship with God, our spouse, our families, and friends as we use to describe our fondness for a good plate of pasta.

Since we had already diluted the word, it became easy to pollute it. Today, ‘love’ does not mean the true desire for the best for another, but rather a general indiscriminate acceptance of anything and everything the other wants. Do you see? We have redefined ‘love’ to something that is actually evil. What parent among you would let your child put his hand on the stove top or run in front of a moving car just because you want to respect what he wants? Of course you wouldn’t. You love your children, so you would correct and teach them.

By the envy of the devil – he wanted to be God himself – death entered the world. He enticed man to desire the same, so, in our pride, we seek to decide rather than discern what is right and wrong, true and false, good and evil.

I realize that, so far, I am painting a pretty bleak picture. But there is home. Remember from the first moment of the fall, God made a promise. He would save us. That is why the Psalmist can say, “You have rescued me…At nightfall, weeping enters in, but, with the dawn, rejoicing…You have rescued me…You changed my mourning into dancing…You have rescued me.” (See Ps 30)

Whence does that rescue come? Jesus Christ!

The synagogue official’s daughter was at the point of death. The woman had suffered at the hands of many doctors, but her hemorrhages had not been healed for twelve years. It seems to me, in many ways, the same can be said for our world. Look around us. There are wars, famine, illness, and all sorts of sin. We have suffered for many years. The social doctors of the modern age have promised cures and remedies: economic solutions, political solutions, social programs. Yet, we are still at the point of death.

What cured the woman? What revived the synagogue official’s daughter? The answer comes from Christ himself: faith. He tells the woman who was so presumptuous to reach out and touch his robe, even only the tassel of his robe, “Your faith has saved you.” (Mk 5:34) When the official was doubtless despondent at the death of his daughter, Jesus reassured him, “Do not be afraid, just have faith.” (Mk 5:36) We must always remember that the answer to our near-death society is not some charismatic politician or social program. Rather, it is in the Word made flesh, God become man, Jesus Christ. It is only when we overcome our fear and trembling and approach him in faith, when we invite him into our homes to lay his hand on our own heart that we can be revived and healed.

Remember, though, Jesus does not come to heal a society or, at least in this world, to set up some perfect political system. He comes to heal people. He comes to use to teach us how to love God and neighbor with true love, to desire what is best for each of them, not the fulfillment of their earthly or fleshly desires, but communion with the One True God. He comes that we may not wallow in the darkness of error and death, but “stand in the bright light of truth,” life in Christ Jesus.

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