June 27, 2021 The Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
The tie in between today’s readings: What Love Does
Today’s reading in Wisdom insists that the Divine Plan created man immortal and reflecting God’s image. Nature was pure and self-perpetuating. All things were good. Everything was in harmony with itself, its environment, and with their Creator. It was Paradise! But it came with the all too familiar caveat not to eat from that one tree or they would die. No biggie. They certainly didn’t need it. There was a lush Garden for food, plenty do to keep them busy, and God for company. What’s one tree…and yet? The Serpent’s lure for them to be like God was all too shiny a brass ring to let pass by. They made a deal with death! Reached out! Grabbed it and fell off the merry-go round! Don’t judge. Every one of us would have done the same thing. Godship is the ultimate temptation. True to His word, the Lord expels them from Eden to be their own “gods”. They and all the following generations continue to mess things up royally. This God thing is way above our pay grade. The Almighty is none too pleased with it either. But free will was necessary to allow for love in the Divine Plan. Sin, death, and destruction in our world were not only a possibility, but since God is all knowing…expected. However, the rescue, too, was already built into the equation through Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).
Mark chapter 5 is aptly called the St. Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes) chapter of the Bible. Today’s reading in Mark 5:21-43, dramatically deals with the dire straits of two very different people. First, the narrative of woman with her issue of blood. For twelve years the Law of Moses has marked her as an unclean lonely outcast from Jewish society. Everything she had was spent on failed medical treatments. Desperate for relief from her physical and mental sufferings, she turns to Jesus because she has no place else to go. Breaking all taboos, she blends in with the jostling crowd pressing in on our Lord and somehow manages a touch…The Touch. Jesus stops and turns. “Who touched Me?” He calls out. The woman falls trembling at His feet and confesses all. Our compassionate Lord tells her that her faith has made her well. She goes home healed, in peace, and with a new name: Daughter. Meanwhile, news reaches Jairus about his daughter, who is now very dead. It’s Jesus’ turn to tell him to have faith. They leave the crowd taking only Peter, James, and John. Arriving at the house, the paid mourners mock Him as Jesus shows them the door informing them that the girl is only sleeping. Now, it’s only dad, mom, Jesus, and company in the bedroom with a corpse. This time the Lord does the touching, “Little girl, get up!” She immediately revives to the amazement of all. Once again, Jesus saves the day! But we have to look a little deeper to see what these healings are about. After all, every one of the people restored by the Lord during His time here on earth eventually died anyway so, in the end, it’s kind of futile. Jesus’ miracles are testimonies that He is the Messiah, the Christ on a mission to seek and save the lost, as it says in Isaiah 53:5-6:
5 But He was pierced for our offenses,
He was crushed for our wrongdoings;
The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all
To fall on Him.
By His cross and resurrection, Jesus defeated our ultimate enemies: sin and death. He is the Rescuer! He calls out to all of us to come to Him in faith and be restored back to God. He is the Way! There is no place else to go! Get serious with Christ. Forget the crowd! Ignore the scoffers! Reach out to Jesus and let Him touch you! Repent! Believe! Be healed! Be rescued! When you do, He will change you.
No one has ever encountered the Lord physically or spiritually and remained the same. David expresses his internal life transformation with our reading in Psalm 30. This section explodes with praise and thanksgiving to the Almighty, and with good reason. The Lord has done great things for our king. God has forgiven the sins of His repentant servant. He has been David’s help in troubled times and sickness. The Lord prospers and protects His believing child. Has He done the same for you? Think about it. Count your blessings. Be surprised! Be thankful! If you are going through dark times remember: weeping may last for the night, but there is joy in the morning. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He’s not going anywhere and when you come through it…Alleluia!
New life in Christ also shows up externally as we walk with God. We are all at different stages when it comes to our spiritual development. In our reading in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, the Apostle Paul presents a common challenge for us. There was a famine in Judea and he was gathering funds for the Jerusalem church. We can examine how Paul approached the Corinthians concerning the collection plate and tease out some principles to follow in order to achieve our goals to be more Christlike. Avoid acting out of guilt instead, cheerfully, be open for your opportunity to serve, whatever it may be. God rewards virtue and you’ll reap what you sow. Make holy people your heroic models as you develop spiritual disciplines in your private life and along with other believers. Always do your best, when you fail, there is forgiveness along with grace for you to get up and keep going.
So where are you going? You have options, you know. You can choose, as so many have, to disregard the Lord, go your own way, and be your own “god”. He won’t force you to embrace Him. Love never does that. What love did do was to serve, heal, suffer, and die to rescue us. Love freely offers to share the transforming life of the Resurrection with us, which can take us from our dire straits up to the Pearly Gates. Through faith in Jesus Christ, love has built an exit ramp off the broad road of destruction and back to the Father. Take it! Get off! Come home! It’s all you’ll ever want!