13th Sunday O T Year B – 2015

13th Sunday O T Year B – 2015

Wis.1:13-15, 2:23-24/ 2Cor.8, 7, 9, 13-15/ Mk.5:21-43

“A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Pro.17:22). Laughter exercises the face, shoulders, and abdomen. When the breathing deepens, the heart rate rises, and the blood takes up and transports more oxygen. When we laugh, others laugh too. Laughter is a contagious, highly effective, non-prescription medicine. It has no side effects, and no one is allergic to it.

Have we had our dose of laughter today? We can use the tool of humor to induce laughter for our health, healing and general sense of well-being. We can even spend time in daily practicing our laughing out loud – maybe by smiling first, then leaning into a giggle, and then in outright belly.

A deaf man, a blind man and a disabled man heard a rumor that God had come down to a Church in the village to heal the sick. They all went to find out if it was true. God signed to the deaf man, “Can I help you, son?” The man signed back that he would be so happy if he could hear again.

God touched the man and suddenly he could hear. God then touched the blind man and he was able to see. The third man was sitting in his wheelchair with his mouth wide open in amazement.  God looked at the man and asked him what he wanted. The man drew back and yelled, “Don’t lay one finger on me! I’m on disability!”

Today’s readings speak of the gift of life, both physical and spiritual, that God has given us. They urge and challenge us to be grateful for our health in body and soul and to use God’s gifts of life and health responsibly.

The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, tells us that God gave us life and health and that it was the jealousy of Satan which produced illness and death. The reading also suggests that the goal of our lives on earth is to know, to love and to serve God here with perfect health in body and soul, and to share God’s immortal life forever.

In the second reading, St. Paul asks the Corinthian Christian community to show to their Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, who were living in poverty and sickness, the kindness and compassion which Jesus expressed in his healing ministry. Paul asked the Corinthians to be generous in their contributions to a fund being collected for their suffering brothers and sisters.

The generosity of Jesus is the central theme here also, because Paul describes Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection as “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Today’s Gospel describes two of our Lord’s miracles, the healing of a woman who suffered from a chronic bleeding disease and the returning of the dead daughter of Jairus to life.

These healings teach us that Jesus wills life, and wills full life, for all God’s children. The two healings also reveal Jesus as a generous, kind and compassionate God who wills that men should live their wholesome lives fully.

In today’s Gospel we have what is often called a “Markan sandwich”. One story is encased or sandwiched between the beginning and end of another. Here, we have an unusual combination of two miracle stories, one contained within the other – a healing, and a restoration of life.

The story of the woman with the flow of blood interrupts and is sandwiched in between the two parts of the account of Jairus and his daughter. These miracles were worked by Jesus as rewards for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Though the ruler may have trusted Jesus out of desperation and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, even their perhaps defective Faith was amply rewarded.

The stories have several common features. One woman is 12 years old, and the other has suffered for 12 years.  Both are called “daughter,” and both are in need of physical healing. The girl’s father is encouraged to have Faith, and the older woman is praised for her Faith.

The two stories illustrate Jesus’ power over both chronic illness and death. In each healing, Jesus shows his marvelous generosity by giving the recipients life and salvation in addition to physical healing. We just heard a story in the gospel that is two thousand-years-old! For two thousand years this story has been told and retold. What is its attraction?

The outline of the story is very simple. Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, beseeches Jesus to come and heal his daughter. Jesus agrees to come to this important man’s house – but on the way, he is interrupted by an unimportant woman who doesn’t even have a name. When Jesus was irritatingly interrupted he does some unexpected actions, from which we learn five things.

First: Jesus has preference for the unimportant. Jesus showed a preferential option for the poor. Jairus, the important man, can wait while Jesus deals with the unimportant woman. Jesus will pause for us as well.

Second: Jesus has time for losers. Jesus senses that here is a woman with losses. She has lost a lot of blood, a lot of life. Having been given up by her doctors, she is a loser easily relegated to life’s sidelines. And precisely because she is sidelined, she catches his attention. That raises the hope that he will notice us as well: that he, in fact has noticed us several times.

Third: Jesus has time for affirmation. So far, this woman has been identified only by her bleeding. But Jesus takes time to see her. He calls her “daughter”. And furthermore he affirms her by giving her credit. “Your faith has made you well.” This raises the hope that he will see us not as a face in the crowd but as who we are, and call us by our name.

Fourth: Jesus ignores the ‘no’ sayers. I can hear the complaints at his demand to know who touched him, “No, Jesus, we cannot dawdle here. We have job to do. Let us go.” How can you ask this crowd who touched you? Let us move on.” This raises the hope that the people who put us down, who are always negative toward us, who laugh at us and see us alive and not dead as they think.

Fifth: The story reminds us of a deep truth that Jesus came to raise the sick and the dead. In the stories of Jairus and hemorrhaging woman, nobody does anything except cry out in face of death and sickness. The only qualification for the gift of healing is to be sick or dead and cry out to him.

We need to accept God’s call to health, wholeness and holiness.  Jesus accepts us as we are.  Hence, let us bring before him our bodily illnesses and spiritual wounds and ask for his healing touch.  As Christians, we believe that Jesus continues to heal us through his instruments in the medical profession like doctors, nurses and medical technicians.

Hence, when we go to a doctor, we need to offer a prayer to Christ the Divine Healer, that we may choose the right doctor, and that he or she will make the correct diagnosis, prescribe the correct treatment and give us the right medicine. Let us not forget the truth, that Christ still works wonders of healing.  Let us also thank God for the great gift of health and use it for helping those who are sick.

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12th Sunday in O T Year B – 2015

12th Sunday in O T Year B – 2015

Job 8:1, 8-11; 2Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41

A little boy of five was left alone once with his father at bedtime. It had never happened before. After a lot of fun and play the father finally got the little fellow into his night clothes, and was about to lift him into bed when the child said, “But Daddy, I have to say my prayers.” He knelt down beside his bed, joined his hands, raised his eyes to heaven and prayed:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; That was his usual prayer, but tonight he looked up at his dad, then raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, Dear God, make me a great big good man like my daddy. Amen.”

In a moment he was in bed and in five minutes asleep. And then the father knelt by his son’s bedside and prayed, “Dear God, make me a great big good man like my son thinks I am.” Every dad is the first hero for his son. Happy Father’s Day to all who are fathers or grandfathers or stepfathers!

Five weeks ago, we observed Mother’s Day and offered Mass for our moms. Today, on this Father’s Day, we are doing the same – offering our dads, living or dead, on the altar of God during this Holy Mass and invoking our Heavenly Father’s blessings on them.

The role of God in calming the storms of life both in the history of the Church and in the lives of Christians is the central theme of the readings for this Storm Sunday. The first reading tells us how Lord speaks to Job whose life was devastated by storms of illness, the deaths of his dear ones and the total loss of his possessions.

“Out of the storm,” God reminds Job that He is in control. The second reading explains that Jesus died for us to make us a “new creation.” In order to receive this gift, we have to respond to his love by living for him in all situations of our lives. In other words, Paul celebrates the saving significance of Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection and of our participation in the mystery.

Today’s Gospel describes how, by a commanding word, Jesus stilled a storm on the Sea of Galilee, returned the sea to its natural order and saved his followers from drowning. The incident reminds us to keep Jesus in our life’s boat and to seek his help in the storms of life.

There are so many storms break into our lives and even God permits them to enter as our warnings and reminders. One reason is to wake us up because when our life is easy and comfortable we do not go to Him and talk to Him and respond to His will. The trouble with us is that we tend to call on God only when everything seems hopeless and says: “I guess all we can do now is pray.”

God is the last One to know about our predicaments. When will we learn to really trust and surrender everything to God? There are things that we should know and reflect when the storms of life come in our way.

First is, let us make God as top priority. Let us make God as number one person in our lives. Even God permits storms or tragedy to happen. He breaks into our lives even by means of these apparent evils for the reason that I have given you awhile ago.

It is because we lack attitude of a real faith, an attitude of trust by which we turn to God at all times and not only during the time when we need Him so much. We should not wait until a violent wind blow. God should be our top priority and the first person to know if storms of life strike us.

Second, God does not abandon us in times of troubles or storms of life. We often receive abundance in our lives like: money, material possessions, friends, good family and good work and great teaching. Yet when stress or tragedy or storms enters into our lives, we may find ourselves thinking God has abandoned us or unfaithful to us.

I’m sure many of us have pet dog in our homes. But what does this pet dog really know about us? This pet dog knows that we feed him and pat him on the head that we walk with him and let him bark to protect us. But he has no idea that we can talk and read and write or we know how to solve mathematical problems and we know how to operate a computer.

There are hundred things about us which our pet dog do not know and imagine. But we owe him a credit if he is doing the best any pet dog can do. What he knows is correct as far as it goes. But we are much, much more than what he thinks we are.

It is the same way between God and us. We have a small idea of a big God as mere human beings. The little we know is probably correct as far as it goes. But God is much, much more than we can ever imagine.

Now just because we know so little about God, it is foolish and injustice to criticize what He does to us. We are like that pet dog barking at the moon to scare it away. We see Him do that and we laugh understandingly. Similarly God laughs at us for getting upset because we cannot understand why He does the things He does.

We make plans and God turns them upside down. People get sick and die, meet accidents and get hurt. And we, little nothings, get angry at God for all that. When earthquakes, floods and disasters strike, we again get angry with God and blame Him.

It is not strange that whenever anything negative happens, we always blame God for it somehow. When we lose something, we blame God. But when we find 1,000 bucks, God gets no credit. If our farm produces good crops, we think it is because we are such great farmers. But who sent the sunshine and the rain at the right time?

They were most necessary and they did not come from us! They are coming from God and God gets no credit. We try to play like God but always remember, let us trust Him because He does not abandon us. God does not abandon us. What we should do is trust in Him all times because He is in control of everything.

In our life’s journey we too encounter different storms. A storm may arise because of a family problem, a stormy relationship, losing a job, an unpaid debt, children hooked in drugs, and emotional problem. When these happen sometimes we become sacred, anxious, skeptical, and lose our faith.

And what good can this attitude brings us? We need to remember, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.” There is a lesson here for all of us. Danger and crisis offer us opportunities and grace. In the hour of danger we discover a lot about ourselves, about others, and about God.

The reason why we become terrified during times of storms is because we focus too much on the shaking boat and not on Christ who steers the ship. We need to put our faith and trust in the Pilot. Let us remember this prayer: “Lord, my boat is small and the ocean is great. Come quickly. Amen.

 

                    11th Sunday O T Year B – 2015

                           11th Sunday O T Year B -2015                   Ez 17:22-24/ 2 Cor 5:6-10/ Mk 4:26-34
There is a story told of Napoleon when he was at the height of his power. At one stage he met the cardinal of Paris and said to him, “I am going to destroy the Vatican!” The cardinal replied: “You won’t be able.” Napoleon said, “I will. Just you wait and see.”  

The cardinal said to Napoleon: “You will never be able. We priests have been trying to destroy it for the last 1800 years and we haven’t been able!”
Today’s readings are about the birth and growth of the reign or rule of God (Kingdom of God), in human lives and about the gigantic growth of the Church from very humble beginnings. Both growths are slow and mysterious, guided by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I often think it is amazing how so many people keep coming back to the Church, or even just remain with the Church, in spite of so many reasons to leave it: scandals, bad example, bad preaching and so on.  
A pastor working in Lourdes as a confessor a couple of times was amazed at how people from all over the world would come and confess their sins and many of them after being away from the Church for decades. Why is this?  
It is because the Spirit of God goes on moving people, drawing people and inspiring people to keep coming back. And where the practice of the faith decreases in one part of the world, such as in Europe at the moment, it increases in another and so the cycle continues.

The Lord does not wait until we are ready to act, or to preach, or to reach out to people. God simply goes on loving his people all over the world and moving people to act where it is needed, whether we are ready or not.  

In the Gospel today are these lovely examples of what the kingdom of God is like. Jesus compares it to plants growing in the ground. The farmer plants the seed, but the plants grow by themselves, ‘how, he does not know.’ God continues to work and guide people to himself whether we take part or not.
Sometimes I think that our work is a bit like that of the farmer in the parable. We are called to plant seeds. We try and be signposts to God, pointing them in the right direction and then God does everything else. By ourselves we are very limited in what we can do, but the thing is that we do have a part to play.  
God invites us to be part of his work, helping others along the road to heaven, perhaps by prayer, by example and for a few of us by preaching. But all of us are invited to play a part. For most of us it is a hidden part. I think we often underestimate the importance of praying for others. We speak to them about God mostly by the way we live.
In a restaurant, a family of five bowed their heads in prayer before beginning to eat. One of the children, a girl of about ten, expressed thanks for the entire family in a hushed voice, her head bobbing expressively. A few moments later a couple, on their way to pay their check, paused at the family’s table. 
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen anyone do that,” said the man, extending his hand to the father. The father smiled and replied, “It was strange at first, but we always express thanks at home before we eat. The children continued it when we went to restaurants, so we just went along with it, and now it’s our way.” 
The woman who had come up to the table patted the little girl on the shoulder and, obviously touched, looked at the mother and said, “Don’t ever stop. It means a lot to those around you.” It seems like such a little thing, but it was a witness. The seeds of the kingdom are little, and we are called to scatter them.
Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed. It is a tiny seed, but it can grow into something many thousands of times its size. In other words, although we are small we can have a lasting influence on the world around us, even though we may not realise it in our own lifetime.  
The Church is meant to be small. We are not meant to be big and powerful and we have seen what happens when we get too big and powerful; we forget what we are about and we are caught up in prestige and status and our own importance. But when we are small we remain dependent on God and focused on God.  
That is when God can work through us most effectively because we don’t get in the way. When we are not full of ourselves there is room for God. I’m sure that one of the things that is happening in the Church at the moment is that God is helping us to become small again.  
While once we were big and powerful, now we are despised in many places. It is painful, but it is also helping us. The Lord allows this to happen because He loves us and He knows what will help us the most. The Apostles too wanted Jesus to be big and powerful.  
James and John asked if they should call down fire on a town that didn’t make them welcome. Another time one of them asked Jesus if the time had come for God to ‘restore the kingdom to Israel,’ in other words to kick the occupying Romans out and become powerful once again.  
But the way of Jesus was something very different and unexpected. His was the way of the cross. He was despised and rejected and appeared to be a complete failure. The Apostles found this very hard to accept, but eventually God helped them to learn that this was the path that they too must walk.
God goes on making his kingdom grow; drawing people to himself and helping people to find their way; most of the time we don’t know how. We are invited to play our part by praying for those around us and speaking about God by the way we live.
The Kingdom of God is the growth of God’s rule in human hearts that occurs when man does the will of God and surrenders his life to God. The seed of faith lies dormant within each of us. 
When we permit the Holy Spirit to nurture it with TLC (tender loving care), it grows miraculously into gigantic proportions. The growth is slow and microscopic in the beginning. But the seed grows by using the power of the Holy Spirit, given to us through the word of God, the Mass, the sacraments and prayers. 
As we learn God’s will from His words and try to put these words into practice, we participate in the growth of God’s kingdom on earth which will be completed in our heavenly life. We should continue sowing tiny seeds in the form of words of love, acts of encouragement, deeds of charity, mercy and forgiveness. Amen.