Sunday, June 28, 2015

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

The beautiful Gospel for today (Mark 5:21-43) tells of the story Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus: "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" How comforting these words are!


When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
"My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live."
He went off with him,
and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"
But his disciples said to Jesus,
"You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
From a Sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus:

Every gospel reading, Beloved, is most helpful both from our present life and for the attainment of the life to come. Today’s reading, however, sums up the whole of our hope, banishing all grounds for despair.

My daughter has just died. Do come. What he means is that the warmth of life still remains, there are still indications that her soul has not departed, her spirit is still in this world, the head of the house still has a daughter, the underworld is still unaware of her death. Come quickly and hold back the departing soul!

Christ raises the daughter of Jairus, Yelena Cherkasova
In his ignorance the man assumed that Christ would not be able to raise his daughter unless he actually laid his hand on her.  So when Christ reached the house and saw the mourners lamenting as though the girl were dead, he declared that she was not dead but sleeping, in order to move their understanding minds to faith and convince them that one can rise from death more easily than from sleep.

The girl is not dead, he told them, but asleep. And indeed, for God death is nothing but sleep, since he can raise the dead to life more quickly than we can rouse a sleeper. He can restore life-giving warmth to limbs grown cold in death sooner than we can impart vigour to bodies sunk in slumber. Listen to the Apostle: In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead will rise. He used an image because it was impossible to express the speed of the resurrection in words. How could he explain its swiftness verbally when divine power outstrips the very notion of swiftness? How could time enter the picture when an eternal gift is given outside of time? Time implies generation, but eternity excludes time.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

The Gospel of Christ calming the storm at sea (Mk 4:35-41; Mt 8:23-27) is a stunning account of Jesus' divine power over all of creation. In a moment, with a single command, the winds and waves are subdued. St. Augustine, in the following sermon, writes of Christ's power within us---a power to calm the storms of daily life. We only need call him to mind and "awaken" his grace-bestowing presence.
From the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Philanthropinon,

When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind; when your anger is roused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune – shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. 
What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence. Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him. Now what was your desire? You wanted to get your own back. You have forgotten that when Christ was being crucified he said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Christ, the sleeper in your heart, had no desire for vengeance in his. Rouse him, then, call him to mind."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Feast of the Sacred Heart, Year B


Sacred Heart, by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882-1964)
From a Sermon by St. Augustine:

Here you all are now, ready to come to the sacred font where you will be washed clean in baptism and made new by being born again in the saving waters. When you come up from the font, you will be without sin. All the things that burden you from your past will be blotted out. Your sins will be like the Egyptians who pursued the Israelites – they pursued them only as far as the Red Sea. Now what does “as far as the Red Sea” mean? As far as the baptismal font, which has been consecrated by the cross and the blood of Christ. It is called the Red Sea because of its ruddy hue. And do you not see the stain of blood upon those who belong to Christ? Look with the eyes of faith. When you see the cross, visualize the blood also. When you see the body hanging on the cross, contemplate the blood streaming from it. Christ’s side was pierced with a lance, and our ransom poured out. This is the reason why baptism, that is to say the water into which you are dipped, is signed by the cross of Christ; it is as if you were crossing over the Red Sea. Your sins are your enemies; they pursue you, but only as far as the sea.

When you enter the font you escape from them. They are wiped out, just as the Egyptians were engulfed by the waves while the Israelites escaped dry-shod. What does the Scripture say? Not one of them remained. Whether your sins are many or few, great or small, not the least one of them remains.