Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year – September 30, 2018

Wisdom 2:12, 17–20; James 3:16 – 4:3 Mark 9: 30–37

 

“Great” is a word that we have heard time and again in recent years. Today we hear from Jesus both emphatically and clearly the meaning that he gives to “great.” For the second of three time recorded by Saint Mark Jesus informs his followers what he faces as he continues his ministry. He would be betrayed, condemned and executed, but he will also rise. Despite repeating this, what does he encounter from his close followers? When they are confronted, they admit that they were arguing about who among them is the greatest.

 

Interestingly, Mark makes the point of saying that when he heard this, Jesus sat down. I had to wonder whether Jesus sat down with a large sigh- a sign of frustration. If they had been arguing about who was the greatest, they certainly had not been listening closely to him. They clearly had missed the point of what he had been saying.

 

The revelation of God’s love for mankind, which is the object and goal of the ministry of Jesus, would require the greatest gift that he could give: his life itself. That giving of his life would take place through the cruel execution of the cross. This was the result of the obstinate refusal of those who ought to have known, who ought to have understood and accepted what he was teaching. The close followers of Jesus, his chosen Apostles, gave evidence of the fact that they were stuck on that same level of misunderstanding as those leaders who would be responsible for his crucifixion. They were stuck on the level of thinking that equated “great” with power, position, wealth, and control.

 

Faced with this, Jesus takes a child and sets it in their midst. This is significant because a child in that society and in that culture had no standing, had no position, had no power, had no influence. One who received this child, who respected this child, who recognized and accepted this child, received and accepted Christ, received an accepted God in the true sense. In doing this, one also acknowledged that greatness comes from humble recognition of what we areas creatures of a loving God. Greatness comes from imitating and reflecting our loving God in humble and total service to others and to mankind as Christ showed by his sacrifice on the cross.

 

To focus only on one’s self, on what we might have or what wish we had, clouds the vision of what we are to have as followers of Christ. To focus on one’s self and some possible position or power or possession we might have, clouds the vision of what we are as believers in Jesus Christ. As Jesus embraced the child, we are to embrace others in our lives. We are to embrace the ones who are considered the least, the neglected, the overlooked, in order that we might more fully appreciate our potential to make God known.

 

Being other-focused allows for the recognition of the gifts in life that we possess, Instead of resenting what we do not have, we become grateful for what we do have and how these gifts allow to affirm others and thus be affirmed in ourselves by God. Genuine gratitude to God allows us to be peaceful and merciful in our relationships with others. Genuine gratitude for what we are and what we can express to others is what it truly means to be “great” as Jesus taught. Being “great” in this way we can reflect and reveal the truth and reality of a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Forth Sunday of the Year – September 16, 2018

Isaiah 50: 4c-9aJames 2:14-18Mark 8: 27-35

 

A favorite pastime of mine is light reading. I usually spend about an hour a day devoted to reading what is known as historical fiction. Doing so puts me in contact with different authors with different styles. Most of these are enjoyable and creative. Particularly are they creative in presenting their story when the outcome in history is already known.

 

Such creativity, I believe, can be found in the Gospel of St. Mark which we have been reading and hearing over recent months. We have now reached the mid-point of that Gospel. The first half of the Gospel was devoted to introducing Jesus in different ways. Now we hear him ask his close followers who the people say that he is. For the most part, his followers tell him that he is identified with one of the prophets who are a part of their history. Peter, however, steps up and boldly states: “You are the Christ.” By saying this Peter identifies Jesus with the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Promised One, who had been anticipated in their history.

 

But Peter quickly falls from the favorable status of his declaration. Jesus make clear that he is not a warrior messiah, a political messiah, one who would free the Jews from the occupation of the Romans. In fact, what he declares is very much the opposite. He is to be a suffering Messiah following in the imagery of that passage from Isaiah the prophet that we have heard today. Peter is actually rebuked for not accepting this. He is told not to be a “tempter,” a “Satan,” He is told “get behind me.” He is to follow where Jesus would lead – to Calvary. Peter is told this, as we are told this. We are to follow Jesus, to be one with Christ. Suffering, taking up the cross is to be embraced. It is a fundamental part of being a disciple, an active believer in Christ.

 

Popular preaching that is often heard makes an association between sin and suffering. It also associates holiness with good fortune. Often the lament is heard: Why am I suffering in this way or that when I try so hard to live a good life? Listen closely to what Jesus says. Take up your cross and follow me. This is not to be done in a sense of self-pity, of “woe is me,” looking for someone to feel sorry for me. Rather, it is in this manner that Christ gives of himself in his betrayal, condemnation and execution. He does this so that the totality of God’s love for mankind is demonstrated. And it is this way, in taking up our cross, that we participate in making this love and care known.

 

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Those who believe in the Son, who join themselves with him, who carry the cross with him, will also share in his resurrection. They will have eternal life. Taking up the cross makes us one with him in the revelation of Divine Love for mankind.

 

Selfishness and greed are so contrary to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Selfishness and greed is so contrary to what is revealed to us about God. Egotistical self-centeredness, which is selfishness and greed, and which is shown in so many ways by lying, dishonesty, prejudice, false judgement, manipulation, abusiveness and so on, are so contrary to what we are called to be, what we are called to do, as followers of Jesus Christ. Our baptismal; call is to show fort hand to reveal Godliness. This is to be done, not just in words as St. James tells us today, but in good works, in the way we live. It is this “taking up of the cross” that we demonstrate our knowledge and our commitment to our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-Third Sunday of the Year – September 9, 2018

Isaiah 35:4-7a James 2: 1-5 Mark 7: 31-37

Miracle stories, like the one we heard today, are among the favorite parts of the Gospel accounts. They can easily inspire us to some day-dreaming, hoping, wishing – that we might be freed of various pains and ailments, and especially of more serious illnesses and disabilities. If only!

 

But all that is involved n this story tells us that healing is not an end in itself. There is much more. First, there is the setting of the story, as St. Mark gives us his account. It is situated in the non-Jewish part of the country – Tyre, Sidon and the Decapolis or “Ten-Cities.” This reminds us that our loving God reaches out to us even in foreign circumstances. The experience and presence of God can be encountered in unexpected ways. The experience and presence of God is not limited to certain moments of a day or a week, or to certain structures or locations. Our loving God is always present and active in our lives.

 

Then there is the very physical gestures of Jesus in restoring the hearing and the speech of the man. This is somewhat unusual in the miracle stories so what can we appreciate and understand from it? In a particular way it emphasizes the importance of both hearing and speaking. Ears are to be open to hear and tongues are to be loosed in order to speak. We can begin to recognize the wonder of the presence of God that can be experienced in words of love, care, concern, sympathy and support. Words, too of gratitude, praise and appreciation can be spoken by us or to us, or heard from us by others. We have the ability, the power, the potential in our daily live to hear or to speak about things at are good, true, beautiful – things that reflect God.

 

This incident recorded in the Gospel also reminds us that the revelation of God takes place through the senses of hearing and speaking. The presence and the reality of God is not mysterious or hidden or secret. It is a genuine reality in our live that we humanly experience. In a particular way this is important when we come together to worship and to praise God. We listen to the words of Scripture, prayers that are said, songs that are sung. God’s message is made known to us and our response is expressed as a common desire to grow in faith and trust in God. We speak in words and in song in order to confirm to ourselves and to one anther the power and the majesty of God’s presence in our lives. Our words heard and said express the value and worth to us and to one another of the presence of and faith in God for us all.

 

The story we have heard today introduces a bit more of the person of Jesus to us. It also provides us with and understanding of what we are to be and to do because of our identification with him. Our God speaks to us, we respond in prayer and worship now, but also when we go forth from here. We are to hear and to follow whatever call is made to us to reveal anywhere and everywhere in our day to day lives the reality and the truth of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twenty-First Sunday of the Year – August 26,2018

Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18 b5: 2a, 25-32 John 6: 60-69

 

Over the past few weeks we have taken a break from hearing passages from the Gospel of St. Mark each Sunday in order to hear how Jesus teaches about the Eucharist, the “Bread of Life.” This discussion by Jesus is a fitting follow-up to the miraculous feeding of a vast crowd which we recalled a number of weeks ago.

 

The Gospel writer John saw this as a fitting opportunity to present what Jesus wants us to understand about the “Bread of Life” he offers to us. It is a more miraculous feeding than that of a large crowd at the time of his ministry. It is a feeding available to us through the centuries. We, too , are invited to be nourished and sustained by Jesus himself as this is the ultimate revelation of the love of God to us. We are called upon to consume the bread and wine that becomes, through his word, his command, to do this in memory of him. It is the true presence, the Real Presence of his Body and Blood.

 

Today we hear a reaction to what Jesus taught. A central question of that reaction is “Does this shock you?” The question for us is: “Does this shock us? We might think that the source of the “shock” would be trying to understand how simple elements of bread and wine becomes his Body and Blood. To a person of Faith, that the Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who took on being human in the person of Jesus Christ, does this involves accepting his words and actions as an element of faith.

 

Rather, we might ask ourselves whether the “shock” in what Jesus says is the result of acknowledging the depth and the totality of God’s love for us that is shared with us in the Eucharist. In our human experience we speak of love and commitment both frequently and freely. But we also know well enough that love and commitment is often limited and conditioned. Total and unconditional love is difficult and, if we are honest, not always realized.

 

Yet this is what Jesus proclaims in telling us of the “Bread of Life” that we are to consume and make a part. of ourselves. The totality of the love of God that is given to us is a magnificent reality of our faith that is to be fully appreciated by us. It is offered to us freely by our God. It is the food that will nourish us.for our journey of life

 

Our response to God’s beneficence to us is to echo Joshua: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Our response is to realize with St. Paul that the relationship between God and ourselves is to reflect that of the marriage between a man and woman as described in the Book of Genesis: two are to be united as one. Our response is to answer as did St. Peter: “Master, to whom shall we go?”

 

The Eucharist for us is the means by which we live and grow in a true and faithful union with one another, as the Body of Christ, and with our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Twentieth Sunday of the Year – August 19, 2018

Proverbs 9: 1-6Ephesians 5: 15-20John 6: 51-58

 

The Gospel story we heard took me back to my freshman year in high school. For some this may seem like it was only yesterday. For many it is a totally different era. A favorite saying of a Latin teacher in the seminary high school was: “Repetitio est mater studiorum.” “Repetition is the mother of studies” This teacher emphasized this thought because repetitive drills were very much a part of learning Latin.

 

Once again, today, we hear Jesus speaking in the Gospel of St. John. Jesus is doing just this: repeating over and over again: “I am the Living Bread come down from heaven.” “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you will have life within you.” Jesus repeats these and similar phrases with the hope that his message might get through.

 

Jesus says not only that he is the “Bread of Life” but also that for us to possess the life he promises we must consume the bread and wine that he declares is his Body and his Blood. He repeats this in order to make it clear that we must consume the totality of his presence, his Body and his Blood, in order to have his life present in us, in order to be totally united with him.

 

If we are like some of those in the crowd Jesus is addressing and hear him only in a superficial and literal way, what he has to say seems impossible and even repulsive. But if we understand the depth and the meaning of his mission in the world and seek to be part of that mission, with the eyes and ears of Faith, what he says makes sense.

 

It is our belief, it is our Faith, that in the person of Jesus Christ God entered our world so that the totality of God’s love for humanity might be revealed. In Jesus Christ, God comes into our world to demonstrate the depth of this love and to invite us to respond to this love by living it out, acting it out, totally and completely. In the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, death itself is defeated. Death is overcome. Jesus calls upon us to join in union with him in true and eternal life.

 

We are invited to be a part of all of this in a way similar to the invitation that Wisdom makes to a sumptuous banquet. We are invited to the banquet of the Eucharist to consume and make part of ourselves the totality of God’s love to us, making the life and the love of God a part of us by consuming his flesh and his blood, the whole of him, as Jesus repeatedly declares.’

 

We become one with Jesus Christ. We become the Body of Christ. We do so by coming together with one another for these moments. We are filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns, ad spiritual songs. We thereby give thanks always and for everything, as St. Paul encourages us.

 

Nourished and sustained with the Real Presence that we share in the Eucharist, we go forth from this place and from these moments with a genuine and true wisdom that demonstrates in our lives our faith and our trust in a good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Eighteenth Sunday of the Year – August 4, 2018

Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15 Ephesians 4: 17, 20-24 John 6: 24-35

 

It was a stunning event: providing food to a vast crowd numbering in the thousands. Staring with only five loaves of bread and a couple of fish, Jesus fed them. Certainly it had the crowd excited. Despite the efforts of Jesus to go off for some private time for himself and his close followers, the crowd persisted and chased after them. They were filled with wonder and awe, but also with questions.

 

This is the setting in the Gospel of Saint John that presents the opportunity to develop the fundamental understanding that the God-man, Jesus Christ, chooses to go beyond the experience of the Chosen People of old and to establish an intimate and continuous union of God and humanity, between God and us.

 

We heard first today about the loving care of God the Israelites that they had experienced. They had been led to emigrate from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. But quickly, even after having witnessed the defeat of their enemy, Pharaoh and his army, they were complaining. Things were not as they had wanted them to be. Their faith and confidence in G0d was shallow. They were clearly dissatisfied.

 

But their complaints were not rejected, even though that might have been expected and even appropriate. Rather, a loving God responded and provided them with food for their journey. They were not abandoned, but assisted as they moved to the freedom of the land that had been promised.

 

As Saint John records it, a reference to the Chosen People of old was the starting point for Jesus as he presented the difference that his ministry and message would represent. The feeding in the desert, and particularly the manna that was shared, was a genuine action of God’s generosity on behalf of the people. But, it was limited. Eventually it ended. It was bread that sustained life, but only temporarily. It was limited like the few loaves and fish that were the source whereby a vast crowd was then able to be fed and satisfied because of the intervention of Jesus.

 

Using the image of the sustaining and nourishing food that is bread, Jesus takes the revelation of the generous love of God a step further. He, Jesus, is “the Bread of Life,.” He is the source of sustenance and nourishment for true living. He is the source of life, but not for a moment, but for all time. If one believes in him and places faith in revelation of God that Jesus makes, then one will never be hungry, will never be thirsty. What that means is that we can come to appreciate the true meaning of this life that has been given to us. That meaning is found in recognizing how we genuinely reflect and make God, the source of life known in our own lives.

 

While we may concentrate on how this union with God through Christ in Eucharist may affect us in an individual relationship with God, it is well to remember that Jesus feeds us with himself so that we may become what we consume, the Bread of Life. We are to become what we drink: the love that is poured out on behalf of humanity. When we become what we eat and what we drink, when our bodies literally take on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, we declare with true faith the wondrous deeds of God on our behalf. We are to show forth the loving care of the God who becomes part of us. Through us, the Body of Christ, the knowledge and experience of God far exceeds what was experienced by the Chosen People in the desert

 

Each time we gather for the Eucharist, we are called upon – in ourselves and joined with those who have shared communion with us – to make visible, to make evident, to all who hunger in life, this living and active presence of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Seventeenth Sunday of the Year – July 29, 2018

2 Kings 4: 42-44 Ephesians 4: 1-6 John 6: 1-15

 

If we are accustomed to watching episodes of an on-going television series, it is relatively easy to understand what is happening in the accounts from the Gospel that we have been hearing on a weekly basis. Last week, for example, we left off with Jesus being moved with pity for the crowd that had pursued him despite his desire to take aside the Apostles to rest and recuperate from their teaching efforts. Now we pick up, this time from the Gospel off St. John, a similar setting if not, indeed, the same situation. Jesus looks over a large crowd that is following him, a crowd numbering in the thousands, and shows very great concern for them. He recognizes that they are hungry: hungry for his teaching and genuinely hungry for food. They needed to be nourished. God’s care for humanity is illustrated. God’s care of providing for our needs.

 

I consider it a curious detail provided by St. John that he records a reference to a young boy who happened to have five barley loves and two fish. Apparently this young boy was alert enough to be prepared. He was able to be the resource by which Jesus could proceed in accomplishing what was nothing less than a stunning result – even to the point of excess – in providing for a significant need of those who had followed him

 

It is this detail of the young boy’s foresight and resourcefulness that caught my attention. I have mentioned on different occasions before that in the culture of that time, children were of little significance and were often ignored. But, in this instance, a point is made that it was an otherwise insignificant person – rather than the Apostles or some other adult in the crowd, who provided the means for Jesus to accomplish his goal.

 

What this suggests to me is that the Lord’s purpose can be accomplished in unexpected ways, making use of unexpected resources. None of us ought to denigrate or play down ourselves and our ability to make use of whatever opportunity life presents to any of us to allow the goodness of God to be experienced through us. In other words: it doesn’t take much to make a difference.

 

Week after week we say that we are not worthy. This is true. We are not worthy of God’s goodness and love, we do not deserve it. But that does not diminish in any way God’s effort to love us and to make that love to be known through each one of us.

 

Think of how insignificant those five loaves and two fish were in comparison to a crowd of well over five thousand. Yet Jesus was able – in a manner that is not explained – to satisfy the hunger of all those people and have a significant amount left over.

 

St. Paul, from whom we also heard today, continued to remind the Christian at Ephesus that despite their differences in background and tradition, they were one, they were united, in their faith. Because of the effect of that shared faith in Jesus Christ, they were able to adopt a manner of living, a life-style that reflects such qualities as humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. In effect, these qualities are the few loaves that can transform our lives and transform the lives who are touched by us. It does not take much to make a difference.

 

In the weeks to come we will hear from the Gospel of John what is known as “Bread of life discourse.” It is the effort of Jesus, through the dialogue that is recorded, to explain the meaning of his continuous Real Presence with us in the Eucharist. Our attention will be on how that abiding presence is with us in the Eucharist. But it would do us well to keep in mind how this story started: it was a very little bit which enabled a tremendous result to occur. Every little effort on the part of each of us can have a significant effect in making known, and making appreciated the presence and love of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

16th Sunday of the Year – July 22, 2018

Jeremiah 23: 1-6 Ephesians 2: 13-18 Mark 6: 30-34

 

How can I know God? What reveals the reality of God to us? After all, so many either deny God or simply ignore God in their lives.

 

Often the presence of God is thought to be found in some sort of power, or powerful action. Perhaps God is sought in a cure or in the favorable solution to a problem. It is a solution to a difficulty that is overcome according to our perspective or desire. These things, and many like them, might appear to us as ideal and make God evident to us in a pleasing and acceptable way. But if this does not happen, then the conclusion is that there is no God or God, in someway, hates me.

 

This simply is not so. If we would like an important insight into what reveals God to the world, it can be found in the thought shared by Saint Paul that we heard today. Paul is writing to the Christian community in the ancient city of Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). This community is made up of believers in Jesus Christ, some of whom are from a Jewish background and tradition and others were non-Jewish or Gentile in their origin.

 

Paul makes clear a simple fact about the Christian faith. It Is to be understood, he communicates, that the ultimate sacrifice of the God-man Jesus Christ on our behalf reveals the gift of total love of God that the cross represents. Barriers between Jew and non-Jew were torn down. The barriers which we erect between persons for whatever reason have been removed. All of creation, all persons in creation, have been reconciled to God and share in the redeeming action of Jesus Christ. It is up to us, however, to recognize, to accept and to live the opportunity of this reconciliation with God.

 

What reveals to us the presence and reality of God more than anything else is the unity of all persons as redeemed children of a loving God as well as the genuine peace among all persons that would result. Is such peace absent in our world? Is such peace absent in our lives? The absence of that peace arises from a lack of effort to bring together, to unite, all persons on the basis of all being common children of our loving God and Father.

 

Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, berated the kings, the leaders of his time, because their selfish attitudes and actions, their self-indulgence and neglect of their responsibilities, led to failure as leaders and to the exile of the people. Jeremiah’s vision was of a true leader who would come forth to unite peoples and bring peace.

 

It is Jesus Christ who fits the vision of Jeremiah, and Jesus Christ who is presented to us today in a truly human situation representing how it is that God enters into our lives. Despite his personal exhaustion, despite the exhaustion of the Apostles after their mission, Jesus was moved by the very human emotion of compassion for those who pursued his presence and hungered for his word. Thus, he proceeded to speak to them, to proclaim the Gospel message of the unity and peace God intends for all of creation.

 

It is for unity and peace that we hunger. It is for unity and peace that we pray week after week as Church. Yet it is also for unity and peace that we must earnestly work, making every effort on our part, in our words and in our action, to overcome the barriers we establish, as well as the division and discord that arise from selfishness and self-indulgence. It is the achievement of unity and peace that we must guide the decisions we follow and the choices we make. In achieving a true unity and peace in our lives and with whomever is part of our lives, as well as a true unity and peace in our country and in our world that will be revealed the truth and the reality of our good and gracious God.

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year – July 8, 2018

Ezechiel 2: 2-52nd Corinthians 12: 7-10Mark 6: 1-6

 

Last week I mentioned that as we hear brief passages from the Gospel of Saint Mark this year we ought to keep in mind that the approach he takes is to pose the question in the first part of his presentation: who is Jesus? Thus, in the account of various incidents and events, there are also some rather negative views that are expressed about Jesus,.

 

Some of the leaders of the people, especially the Pharisees, strict observers of the law and various regulations, tend to write Jesus off as rather slip-shod, because he does not insist that his close followers abide by strict rules about the Sabbath observance. Then there were the concern expressed by his own relatives about his mental health. Even some of his close followers, his disciples, were hesitant to place faith and trust in him. Today we hear from persons of his own home town. They certainly had questions. They were convinced that they knew all about him. He was a carpenter. They were acquainted with his close relatives. They expressed skepticism and doubt about him and about the legitimacy of what he was saying and doing.

 

In the early part of his presentation, Mark is laying out some of the questions or concerns about Jesus that his listeners might have – questions and concerns about who Jesus is. But what it comes down to, as far as the people in his home town and others are concerned, is that Jesus is not what some expect or want. Who he is does not fit their ideas or their purposes. It is easy to look at this in the context of the times back then. But it would serve us well to look at this in terms of our own times and place today.

 

As we hear it today, what is fundamental to the Gospel message is the revelation of God. God, who is goodness and love for all of us, all persons, all creation. Is this call to us to live up to the potential as reflections and revelations of God acceptable to us; are we comfortable with it? Or do we, rather, choose to reject it because of the demand it makes on us?

 

When the prophet, Ezekiel, was called to speak to the Chosen People of the Old Covenant, to speak truth to them about their failure to live up to that agreement with God, he was warned that they were a rebellious people, unwilling to listen. He was also reminded that he was not to back down, God was with him and would guide him. Do we understand this about ourselves?

 

Saint Paul also ran into opposition, but he also recognized his own weaknesses. There were others who may have been more polished, more acceptable in what they said, especially as it fit their own purposes or what their listeners wanted to hear. But Paul knew his role and what he was committed to do, whether or not others were willing to accept him or his work. Do we show that same tenacity about what we believe?

 

What Jesus Christ calls us to do is to recognize what we are, as creatures of God, as children of God, and how this is to effect and guide us. We are to give clear evidence of this in how we live day after day. How we are to reflect the goodness of God may not be and is not inline with so many of the values of the world in which we live, and even with the values of those who describe themselves as Christians.

 

Does what we say and what we do today and every day reveal the power of God’s mercy and love? We need to ask ourselves this question. Is what we say and what we do show honor and respect, hope and healing, to ourselves and to anyone and everyone who is a part of our everyday lives? We need to consider this carefully. Is what I say and what I do each and everyday reflect a genuine recognition before all else – even with weaknesses and failings – of what I am to be and what I am to do in making known a firm commitment, trust and confidence in a good and gracious God?

Fr. Fedor's Homily Notes

Thirteenth Sunday of the Year – July 1, 2018

Wisdom 1: 13-15, 2: 23-242 Corinthians 8: 7, 9, 13-15Mark 5: 21-24, 35b-43

 

In composing the Gospel account, the Evangelist Mark developed the first part of his text around a simple question: who is this person, Jesus? What can we know about him? What can we expect of him? Rather than simply hearing the accounts of different events that took place, we are to listen to what is being recalled with the view of what does this event tell us about Jesus.

 

Perhaps Mark chose to include this report of an encounter between Jesus and a synagogue leader because synagogue leaders were among those who questioned Jesus and were skeptical about him. Perhaps Jairus was approaching him for selfish reasons. “What might Jesus be able to do for me?” In a way, it almost sounds too familiar.

 

It is easy to see Jairus acting out of a selfish motivation. Here is this wonder-worker, he might say. I have a problem. Maybe he can solve it. There is a major insight into Jairus, however. He does not give up. He hears that his daughter is dead yet persists in his request, despite the ridicule of the crowd that is present.

 

The whole incident points out an important lesson in the relationship with God. In the dialogue with God that is apart of the relationship with God, in the prayer life in which we speak to God for something, we might think of being on a lesser level in that relationship, a dependent level that somehow seeks to manipulate a response that is favorable to what we want.

 

Think about this on a human level. When we are in the position of having to ask for a favor we are rather reluctant to do this with some people. It puts us into a position of dependency. There is a certain degree of risk that might be involved. We fear that we might have to do something in return for that favor. But, with other persons, or perhaps only with one person, where there is genuine love, where the relationship is truly deep and abiding, there is no fear. To ask a favor is very much a part of that relationship. There is no cost. There is no need to reciprocate because of the level of the relationship, the love that is present.

 

We can understand Jesus as making known what level of a relationship with God we are to strive to achieve with God. God is the author of life, of all that is good, as the Book of Wisdom points out. God wants to share with us all that is good. This is how we can understand what Jesus is doing in this incident. He is giving life back to the little girl. It is an illustration of who he is. It reveals that Jesus is: the one who restores the life-giving plan of God.

 

In showing the need for God we are, in reality, showing our love for God. We are attempting to achieve with God the same thing that is present in the human situation mentioned above. It is a closeness to God, a depth of the relationship with God, that flows naturally from us and from a genuine union with God. It is a relationship with God that reaches a level of total confidence, total trust, total love.

 

The lesson of the raising of the daughter of Jairus is simple yet profound. The Lord seeks to give himself to us totally as the giver of life. He wishes to share life. He wishes to share love. The Lord wants us to be able to develop a familiarity, a trust, a love to such a degree that we act freely and without fear and, in so doing, reveal truly good and gracious God