“Encounter” Mural in the Encounter Chapel in Duc in Altum (from Latin: Put Out into the Deep), the main church of the Magdala Center in the Holy Land.

A Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, June 30, 2024
Prince of Peace Catholic Church – 8:00 Mass
Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43

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How many of us like to be interrupted? Something comes up unexpectedly and completely changes your plans for the day. Raise your hand if DON’T like interruptions. Lots of hands…that’s what I thought.

Today’s Gospel reading is a story about an interruption, a holy interruption of Jesus’ journey to heal Jairus’ sick daughter by a woman who was also very sick. The result of this interruption is that two miracles occurred. Let’s take a closer look.

Through these two stories, Mark emphasizes the importance of faith as being essential in order to receive healing from Our Lord. He also teaches us that often when things don’t go as we’ve planned, when we’re interrupted, it’s because God often has a different plan in mind.

As the story unfolds, we have Jairus and his daughter. He’s a synagogue official. He’s kind of a high-level guy who is taking a huge social risk to come to Jesus to ask for healing for his daughter. His fellow Jewish religious officials would certainly not have approved.

But he’s a father and he knows his daughter is dying. He’ll do anything to heal her…he’s not going to worry about being religiously proper. So he gets down on his knees and begs, and Jesus comes. His first act of faith, his trust in Jesus, is so strong that Our Lord agrees to go with him.

On their way to Jairus’ home, a large, curious crowd is following them. They’ve heard the stories about Jesus’ power to heal and they want to see what’s going to happen with Jairus’ daughter. As they’re traveling to Jairus’ home, the woman with a hemorrhage of 12 years appears on the scene. Remember what I said about interruptions? We’ll get back to that in a moment.

First, let’s try to understand the depth of this hemorrhaging woman’s suffering. Certainly she had prolonged physical suffering, 12 years we’re told, with her continued blood flow, but perhaps even more devastating was the psychological suffering from her affliction.

First of all, In the Jewish culture of this time if you had a flow of blood, that meant you were unclean. Secondly, anything you touched or sat upon was unclean. Any person that came in contact with you would be unclean. Can you imagine living your life that way? Anything you touch or sit upon becomes unclean? It must have been a kind of psychological torture.

In addition to being socially unclean – an outcast – being unclean meant that you were also religiously unclean. You couldn’t worship in the synagogue. You’re now religiously in an awful position. At every level of her life this woman is suffering: physically, psychologically, socially and religiously.

So, she hears about Jesus, this renowned healer. Maybe, as one desperate move, she thinks I’m not even going to talk to him because that would make him unclean and he’ll know that I’m a problem. I’m not going to go up to him. I mean, that’s asking way too much. But maybe as he walks by, I can reach out, and touch his clothing. He won’t even notice in this crowd.

And so she does, summoning enormous courage to do it. Remember, she’s unclean! In her desperation she reaches out to the teacher and touches his garment! In her hopeless condition she somehow found hope…hope that gave her the inner strength and courage to reach out to Jesus from the depth of her soul and touch his cloak.

What happens then? Jesus feels healing power go out from him. He asks, who touched me? The woman admitted that it was her who touched him and what did Jesus say? Did he say, you’re unclean! What are you doing touching me? No, he said “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” This slightest touch of his cloak brought Christ’s healing power into her life, at every level. She is made completely clean.

Maybe some of us feel disconnected from the Church in some way, as this woman was? Maybe a priest or a parishioner has hurt or disappointed us and we’ve been away from Mass for a long time, or we come to Mass but we’re still harboring hard feelings and contempt because of what happened? Maybe we’ve even sought spiritual refuge in another faith community. Maybe we no longer take the time to pray every day? Or maybe we have friends or family members who are Catholics who no longer practice the faith for any number of reasons.

Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, all we need to do is REACH OUT, reach out to Jesus and touch him. We don’t need faith that moves mountains to receive his healing. We just need to take the first step…to reach out to him. Say a simple prayer, asking him to increase your faith, to heal your alienation, to use you as an instrument to bring his healing presence to your family members and friends who may have fallen away from the faith. Reach out and touch him…I assure you that his healing power will go forth from him when you do.

Let’s go back to Jairus and his daughter now, the other story we are following to today’s Gospel. While Jairus must have been amazed at the healing of this woman, we can imagine that he’s also thinking “Come on now, Jesus…my daughter is dying!” We need to get going here before it’s too late. We don’t have time for this interruption! We have a plan and this is just slowing us down!

When they finally arrive at his home, Jairus’ worst fears are realized. His daughter is dead. Like Martha who greeted Jesus when he finally arrived before raising Lazarus from the dead, he must have been thinking “Lord, if only you had been here sooner this would never have happened.” But when Jesus told the mourners that the girl was not dead, but sleeping, Jairus must have thought, like Martha, “I know that God will do anything you ask.” In spite of his desperate circumstance, Jairus’ faith in Jesus’ ability bring his daughter back to life was strong.

And Jesus did raise her from the dead. The INTERRUPTION that Jairus experienced along the way resulted in an even greater miracle than what he had ever hoped for. Rather than curing his daughter from her illness, Jesus brought her back to life from the dead!

Through these two miracle stories we learn that nothing is impossible when we approach Christ in faith. Through these stories, Mark calls us to greater faith in Jesus’ power to make a difference in our lives; to believe in his power to work wonders that are beyond the normal experiences of our lives.

We also learn today that we must not be upset by interruptions; by things that disrupt our perfect plans. Often the interruptions of our plans lead to greater results than what we had in mind, or even protect us from harm. As my wife often says when I get aggravated in traffic or have to take a different route to our destination, maybe God is protecting us from some evil that would have befallen us if we had not been delayed.

It all comes down to believing that God is with us always and that He is in control. Remember this the next time something unexpected happens that disrupts your well-made plans. Never forget that interruptions can be a blessing.

And never be afraid to reach out to Jesus when you are feeling discouraged, alienated, or hopeless! Trust always in God’s love for you and in his divine providence. Regardless of where you are in your faith journey, reach out sincerely to Jesus with this simple prayer, “Jesus I Trust in You,” and his healing power is sure to go out from him to touch and to heal you.