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July 20, 2018

HE FEELS OUR PAIN

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe
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Today’s readings deal with life and death, faith and mercy, healing and restoration. The First Reading traces the origins of suffering and death in the world; they were not part of God’s original creative design but were caused by the Devil’s envy and facilitated by the disobedience of our first parents in the Original Sin episode. As result, the original justice was lost, and all manner of pain, suffering and death became the lot of humanity.In the Second Reading, St Paul makes the point that our faith should bear fruit in works of mercy. We are called to be generous like the Lord Jesus who took on human flesh in order that we might become sharers in the divine nature. And in the Gospel, Jesus restores wholeness to the woman with the flow of blood, and raises Jairus’ daughter back to life. By so doing he rewards the woman’s faith and leads Jairus and his household into a life of faith.

The woman with the haemorrhage had suffered intolerably for twelve years. Her condition brought social stigma with it. She was deemed unclean and so was everything she touched – in line with chapter fifteen of the Book of Leviticus (v.25-30). She was excluded from the covenant life of the Jewish people, and this long period of isolation meant she could not marry and raise her own family.Worse still, she was destitute having spent all her money seeking a cure for her condition. But the one chance encounter with Jesus changed everything for her. In that instant she was healed and restored to full communion with society, and was free to pursue a normal life.

Jesus, going against Jewish ritual laws, heals the woman by physical contact, and instead of becoming unclean himself, he makes her clean. Jesus desires to have a personal contact with each of us; he desires a personal, intimate relationship with us but only if we let him. The Lord wants us to be sure of that! Through the woman Jesus shows teaches us that a person is not defiled by his/her material condition but by their spiritual disposition. The woman’s sickness had no bearing whatsoever on her relationship with God. If anything, her faith and remarkable courage proved decisive in her restoration. Likewise, our sicknesses and sufferings cannot come between God and us, so long as we keep believing.

The case of the synagogue official’s daughter was another opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate his power over nature and build up faith in people’s lives. He could have raised the dead girl from a distance like he healed the Centurion’s servant, but once again he chose to make physical contact to show how much he cares for each one of us personally. The raising of the girl back to life served to prove the identity and power of Jesus to her father’s household as they apparently did not believe that he could raise the dead. Let us remember that while Jesus was still dealing with the woman with the issue of blood, news came through that the girl had died and the messengers had said to the father: ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?” But Jesus was in no doubt about what he was going to do, and so he said to the official: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” The same thing he is saying to us today: “Do not be afraid, just have faith.”

This is the same Jesus who calmed the storm on the sea and cured a demoniac at Gadara, the one who turned water into wine at Cana, and the one who walked on water. He has power over the natural and the supernatural; he has power over sickness and death. Jesus is the Messiah, the one who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). Therefore, let our hearts join in the Responsorial Psalm: “At night there are tears, but joy comes at dawn”.This is a song of gratitude to the Lord who saves us from sin, suffering and death. It is also a song of hope and let it be our song today and always as we renew our faith in Jesus.

Dear friends, let us cling to Jesus today no matter what life throws at us, even when it seems like our whole world is falling apart and everything seems to be working against us. Is it that sickness that has ruined your finances and threatens the life of a loved one? Is it your relationship that is falling apart and the fear of separation/divorce paralyses you? Has your heart been shattered by the betrayal of someone you loved and trusted so much? Have you let yourself or somebody else down so much that you just can’t forgive yourself? Are you locked in a particular sinful habit or addiction and you think the situation is irredeemable? Is it the death of a loved one that has brought you loneliness and desolation? Jesus extends his hands of fellowship today! Jesus walks our walk and feels our pain. For this he came and for this he died – that we might free and totally free!Jesus knows what it means to be wounded and broken, buffeted on all sides by the storms of life. Scripture is clear that he was like us in everything but sin.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let today assure us that Jesus is infinitely greater that all our pain and suffering, our fears and lack of faith. That’s the reason he came and died for us. And today he stands knocking at the door – Jesus wants to come into our hearts and make his home in us. Only he can bring peace to our soul – the peace that the world cannot give. Only Jesus can bring joy in our hearts – that real, unspeakable joy. And only Jesus can bring faith in our life – the faith that moves mountains. May we welcome him in our hearts today as we receive his Body in the Eucharist! Amen.

 

Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24; Psalms 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13; Second Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35-43

 


 

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