13th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24, PS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13, 2 COR 8:7, 9, 13-15, Gospel: MK 5:21-43
Today's Gospel highlights four different actions of faith.
- Petition (Supplication)
- Consolation and
It is faith that impels Jairus to leave home, to seek out Christ and to beg him to come and to try to save his daughter.
Petition / Supplication
It is Faith that leads the woman suffering from the hemorrhage to approach Christ and to touch the tassel of his robe.
Jesus affirms her faith and says - "Your faith has healed you - be at peace".
When Jesus and Jairus arrive at Jairus' house, they face the opposition of the world. The people announce to Jairus that his daughter is dead, and implore him to stop bothering Jesus. It is in this moment of crisis that Jesus strengthens Jairus' faith - he says " Do not be afraid; just have faith."
Jesus perseveres in Faith and is willing to be ridiculed for the truth, and he excludes those without faith from witnessing the miracle that he performs in calling the girl back.
Where is my Faith? Where is your Faith?
The readings today lead us to think about our own faith, personally. What is my faith like? What do I truly believe? Is that Faith in communion with Christ or in opposition to Christ?
Fire is an image of faith
To help us to think about our faith, I want to use the image of fire as a model of faith. Fire is a good image because it is a symbol of God's love, it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. When we encounter someone who is passionate about God, we say that "they are on fire!".
Qualities of Fire
When we think of fire, we think of it as a living thing. It breaths, it eats, it always moves and it transforms.
Fire breaths air to burn, it eats fuel to sustain itself and it transforms the elements that come into contact with Fire. Metal is melted, Earth is sterilized, Rocks are scorched.
Fire is Alive
Fire is alive in the sense that it is always in motion, always at work, always transforming and always on "The Way".
Faith is Alive
Faith informs us, it allows us to experience our lives in communion with God. A Living faith transforms the world supernaturally, with great intensity. It is the difference between an old grainy black and white TV and HD TV (in 3 dimensions) - Faith makes life intense!
Fire is a tool
Fire is a powerful tool - it provides light, warmth, protection. Fire can be used to clear land, it can be used to cut, to harden, and to create new, wonderful and beautiful things. Faith is also a powerful help to us on our journey through this life - it strengthens us to endure the difficult.
Faith is a tool
Faith helps us to understand the Scriptures. Faith gives us courage, certainty. Faith gives us the strength to conqueror sin, and to allow us to be a light, a witness to others. Faith helps us to see the world as God sees it. When we look on the world from the light of Faith, we see it from God's perspective and not from Man's. We have an idea of where we need to go, and what difficulties lie ahead.
Fire Triangle / Faith Triangle
In Wilderness survival they teach about the "Fire Triangle". In order for fire to be sustained it requires three things - Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. In the Christian Faith we have the "Faith Triangle" - In order for our faith to grow we need Love, Ourselves, and an encounter with Christ.
Fuel = Ourselves.
In order for a fire to exist there must be something to burn, something to be transformed. That something is us. If we are not putting ourselves into relationship with Christ (through the sacraments, through reading scripture, through prayer), then we are starving our faith of the fuel that it needs to live.
Oxygen = Encounter with Christ
Oxygen is essential for life for all living things. It is also essential for the life for fire. Oxygen in the Faith Triangle is an encounter with Christ - because Christ is the source and summit of our life. It is Christ's love for us that sustains us, informs us and transforms us. We encounter that love when we enter into the sacraments of Eucharist and Confession. We encounter that love when we listen to sacred scripture with our whole heart. We encounter that love when we choose to forgive those with whom we live so we can better imitate Christ.
Heat = Love of God, Love of Neighbor
Are we on Fire with love for our neighbor? Do we strive to imitate the love that Christ has for us to others we live with or encounter? Or is our love conditional, is our love selfish? Is our love directed at serving others or ourselves?
How does the world respond to Faith?
We can see in the Gospel today that the world does not value faith. The crowd (which represents the world) discourage the man from pursuing Jesus. When Jesus arrives at Jairus' house the mourners ridicule him, and attempt to destroy his faith. The same is true for us.
The world seeks to destroy the fire of our faith. The world seeks
· to discourage us,
· to reject us,
· to distract us from what is truly good with distraction towards enticing but worthless pursuits.
The world seeks to seduce us into death
The world seeks to discourage us in growing in our faith in order to seduce us into death. The first reading speaks to us about the ultimate discouragement of the world - that is death. Wisdom says that
"God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living."
It also says
"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,"
Death is the lie that we are created to be finite - it is the counterfeit - it is how we have been cheated - we traded eternal life for a mortal life. Death is what we get when we fall into sin and trade a life of grace - a life on fire for a life of selfishness.
How do we respond to death - An intentional Act of Love
The response that we are to have is to live our lives as an intentional act of love - not a random act of kindness but an intentional imitation of the love of Christ - This places fuel on the fire of our faith.
If your faith was a fire, what kind of fire would it be?
- Embers - I used to have faith, but now it is dying?
- A Match - I am trying to get started in my faith, and seeking to grow?
- A Watch fire - Glowing nicely, warmly providing light and heat to those I live with?
- Or A Bonfire? - Blazing brilliantly and leading others to Christ.
Jesus says " You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."
Go and set the world on fire with God's Love!