Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 27, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
Today’s readings show us how to face suffering, illness and death through faith, which allows us to go beyond the limits of our human condition. With Christ, we can overcome the fear and anguish inherent in the fragility of life.
The first reading tells us that death does not come from God. The Book of Wisdom declares: “God did not make death. […] 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” (Wis 2: 23‒24). Death was not part of God’s plan but was introduced into creation by an act of rebellious freedom. In Paradise, man was not immortal by his own nature but by grace. Man is imperishable as long as he maintains dialogue with God, with death only ensuing if this dialogue comes to an end. Scripture tells us that death originates in the rejection of God’s friendship. When man fails to worship God, his earthly life terminates in suffering and death.
In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “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” (2 Cor 8:9). Jesus came into the world to share our poverty. He became one of us and experienced suffering and death. However, his participation in our condition was a means to makes us rich, to make us participants in his divine life. Jesus’ suffering illuminates our suffering and his death transforms our death into everlasting life.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus miraculously intervenes in two hopeless situations: he heals a woman with an incurable illness and brings a little girl back to life. The woman was deteriorating after spending all that she had on doctors and Jairus’ little daughter was already dead. However, the woman and Jairus did not despair. In their deep anguish, they sought Jesus: the woman touched Jesus’ cloak and Jairus asked Jesus to intervene.
We cannot really understand that Jesus Christ is our savior until we have been rescued. Until then, our faith is abstract. Although we delude ourselves that we are self-sufficient, there comes a moment when a health issue or the loss of a loved one forces us to examine the meaning of life.
Jesus speaks about faith. The woman’s faith preceded her healing, as Jairus’ faith preceded the resurrection of his daughter. To the woman, Jesus said: “Daughter, your faith has saved you” (Mk 5:34) and to Jairus, he said: “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk 5:36).
Jesus performed miracles for the sole purpose of increasing our faith. Where there was no faith, there were no miracles. Miracles are not magic. Miracles are signs that open the human heart to God’s intervention. A miracle is just a promise and not the full reality. It is not enough to be healed from illness, as it is not enough to return to life. We aspire to a glorious body and life that never ends. Thus, we understand that the two miracles described in the Gospel are just a small foretaste of the glorious reality that awaits us.
To have faith means to trust that Jesus will rescue us and not allow us to fall into the pit of nothingness. The refrain of the responsorial psalm says: “I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.” To have faith means to cherish our dialogue with God, which makes us imperishable.
As we, like Jairus, walk with Jesus, we are pilgrims living by our faith. Our belief that Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death allows us to possess some of the reality of the world to come in this life. All our pains and sorrows can be transfigured through faith. By following the examples of the saints, through our daily “deaths” we can begin to experience the final resurrection of the body. Let us pray to be increasingly inspired by faith as we walk the path of life. In the hardships of our lives, may Our Lord give us the grace to experience the joy and peace of the resurrection. Amen.