Sunday Scripture readings, July 1, 2018: Faith works wonders
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
2) 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15
Gospel: Mk 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43
When Jesus encounters the sick, their lives are changed forever. As Jesus heals their physical disease, he gives them the gift of knowing they are loved unconditionally and that they are invited to friendship with God. Divine love heals every sickness of body, mind and spirit. The healing of the body goes hand in hand with healing of mind, spirit and heart.
Pope Francis reminds us that "only the recognition of being a wounded church ... a wounded soul or heart leads us to knock on the door of mercy in the wounds of Christ." In the Gospels, the sick who approach Jesus must first recognize their need for healing and knock on the door of mercy. Their encounter with Jesus is life-transforming precisely because they know their sinfulness and entrust themselves to the healing love of Jesus. Once they are healed they become witnesses to his love and mercy in their homes and communities.
Such was the faith of Jairus, the synagogue official, described in this Sunday's Gospel. Faith drew this man to Jesus' power as he begged for the healing of his daughter who was "at the point of death." Faith in Jesus' power to heal was the first miracle that paved the way for the miracle of his daughter who was raised to health. The faith of the father opened the way for Jesus' word to heal the young girl and restore her to her family and community.
Faith can also have the same transformative effect on our lives today.
The apostle St. Thomas, whose feast day the church will celebrate during this week, encountered Jesus after his resurrection from the dead. But Thomas doubted. His skepticism would have eventually hardened his heart and mind against the healing love of God. But Jesus invited Thomas to touch the wounds of his resurrected body and to believe in the power of his resurrection to heal his doubting heart and mind.
"For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him," we read these powerful words in this Sunday's first reading from the book of Wisdom. We are reminded of our origin in God, our dignity as God's children and the eternal destiny for which we were created.
But do we live as if we were made imperishable and in the image of God? Are we growing daily in faith that opens us to an outpouring of God's abundant love and healing mercy?
Healing was the heart of Jesus' life and ministry. God sent his only Son to reconcile us to friendship with God. To be reconciled to God and to one another heals us and restores us to friendship with Jesus so we can say, with humble confidence, in faith, "speak to me, Lord."
How does God's word challenge me to stronger faith so I too may experience the healing power of Jesus?
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Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington.