Reflections on the Readings
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - June 28, 2009 - Year B
The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
By Dennis Hankins
Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched me?"
Power went out of him.
"Seek the Lord while he is near," says the prophet (Isaiah 55:6). Jairus, a ruler in a local synagogue, sought out Jesus for his twelve year old daughter, as also did an unnamed woman who had been suffering with a flow of blood for twelve years. It is a time of trouble for both; a time of desperation.
Reports about Jesus had been circulating for some time. His reputation preceded him. His coming into this seashore community stirred hope and a great crowd gathered around him. Barely out of the boat, the word spread, and faith leaped in the hearts of his countrymen. He was coming to his own, and some received him. Those who received him were given the privilege of becoming new sons and daughters of the Father.
The raw emotions of that moment stirs my imagination. Jairus believes if Jesus will come to his house and touch his dying daughter, she will be healed. The hemorrhaging woman believes touching the garments of Jesus will heal her. If only Jesus will come a little closer. If only I can get a little closer to Jesus, all will be well. Neither crowds nor distance nor any other thing can keep these two from connecting with him in whom is the power that sustains all things, seen and unseen.
Worship is not entertainment. Nor is it necessarily something we can be led to do. The worship of the Lord is something we enter into; we draw near, we lift up our hearts unto the Lord. Why? Because it is right and a good thing.
Everything else we do in this life requires some sort of active participation. We dress ourselves, we brush our own teeth, we feed ourselves. Out side of infants and small children, we take care of ourselves. In the liturgy, which is the work of the people, we enter into the prayers of the Church; it is a Eucharistic celebration. For centuries, these prayers and this celebration has been understood as a confrontation against the evil of the times. It is understood that as we pray, we are touched, as is the world for which we pray, by the power of the Lord.
No more personal contact with the Lord exists outside the Eucharist. We gather around him, like the crowd in the Gospel today. It is not garments we will reach for. In the memorial of the body and blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes down upon the elements of our offering. We are people of the Spirit, nourished with the bread which is his body, and with the wine, which is his blood. We receive the only Son of the Father, body, blood, soul, and divinity.
This is what St. Peter refers to as a participation in the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4) Even the angels look upon this with wonder and amazement. (1 Peter 1:12) Properly disposed, we reach the source and summit of our life in Christ each time we hear the priest say, "The body of Christ." Here on my tongue, heaven and earth are about to mingle; why wouldn't I say, "Amen?"
Power went out of him. The same power, the same touch of love, touches us as we taste and see that the Lord is good. Like Jairus, like the woman with the flowing blood, we come humbly. We come, not because we are worthy. We are not. We come because we need the only power that can move the soul in the right direction. He has told us, "All things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23) It is possible to forgive, it is possible to love again, it is possible to be a new creation, to be born again.
Let us receive the power of his endless life.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you gave the gift that keeps on giving, even Jesus our Lord, from whom comes the power of a new life, who rules and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.