In the Gospel today, we hear about two miracles done by Jesus:
o First Jesus raises the daughter of a man named Jairus from the dead. And then a woman is healed from a hemorrhage.
o At Notre Dame, I learned the idea that when Jesus came among us, in his ministry in Israel…his miracles of healing and even raising people from the dead were a taste of what would happen when he returned at the end of time. If you look at the Old Testament and then what Jesus says in the New Testament there is this ongoing prediction that at the end of time, as the Old Testament says, or when Jesus returns, as Jesus puts it….there will be no more sickness and death….and Jesus’s time among us was a taste of that future time when there would be a physical resurrection of the dead and we would live close to God.
***I have used this story before, a few years ago, but figured I would use it again, for fun:
The Pope goes to New York, and he is picked up at the airport by a limousine. He looks at the beautiful car and says to the driver, “You know, I hardly ever get to drive. Would you please let me?”
The driver is understandably hesitant and says, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m supposed to do that.”
But the Pope persists, “Please?” The driver finally lets up. “Oh, all right, I can’t really say no to the Pope.”
So the Pope takes the wheel, and boy, is he a speed demon! He hits the gas and goes around 100 mph in a 45 zone. A policeman notices and pulls him over.
The cop walks up and asks the Pope to roll down the window. Startled and surprised, the young officer asks the Pope to wait a minute. He goes back to his patrol car and radios the Supervisor.
Cop: Sergeant, I have a problem.
Sergeant: What sort of problem?
Cop: Well, you see, I pulled over this guy for driving way over the speed limit but it’s someone really important.
Sergeant: Important like the mayor?
Cop: No, no, much more important than that.
Sergeant: Important like the governor?
Cop: Wayyyyyy more important than that.
Sergeant: Like the president?
Sergeant: Who’s more important than the president?
Cop: I do not know, but he has got the Pope driving for him! Oh well. The Pope. Just for fun.
For the sermon today, I was thinking about a friend of mine. He is a priest. And a way back I was as with him and a young priest came by to see him who used to work with my priest friend, but now works at another parish. And the young priest immediately came over to my priest friend and gave him a big hug and said, “I miss you.” I guess he does not like his new pastor!! Ha ha. But anyway, priest friend has had so much good impact in so many ways for many years in his diocese: A wonderful and kind priest.
But I remember, 20 years ago, when he was a little younger than I am now….he had said to me one day, out of nowhere, “Maybe it’s time for me to throw in the towel.” And that means to quit. He was frustrated with things in his life and his ministry as a priest at the time. But he did not throw in the towel: He stuck with it. And I thought of all the good he did by trying to follow Jesus in the way that he felt he had been called even though he had hit some rough spots in his life he didn’t like.
And that, just as Jesus came among us and brought healing into the world and brought people back to life through his time among us…so also, my priest friend, through sticking with it and trying to follow God in his own way, had also brought healing to other people, and brought God’s love to other people….
And that just as Jesus put up with being criticized by the religious leadership of his time, and put up with being rejected by his hometown of Nazareth, and just as he had to tolerate all but one of his disciples running away or rejecting him when he was in trouble….and just as Jesus had to face suffering and the cross….. so, I also I thought of my friend who stuck with his call-in life even though he faced challenges.
Now, I know that you and I want to be happy….and we want our kids to be happy….and I know my priest friend takes vacations and laughs and thinks about getting out with friends. And I know that part of being able to KEEP commitments like marriages or being a priest or a nun is that we can have hobbies and to have fun and to set limits to how much work we do….
BUT, still, when we think of the wonderful things Jesus did in healing the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years or raising the young lady from the dead….these things happened because Jesus was willing to make a sacrifice….and because God the Father was willing to make a sacrifice….and that Jesus was willing, sometimes, to suffer….
And that’s the same with us: yes it’s good, sometimes, to go to the beach, to get rest, to have a hobby, to laugh as much as possible in life….BUT ALSO, it is good, sometimes, for the sake of the love of Jesus, to be willing to sacrifice and suffer a bit….. Because then we sometimes can become vehicles for God’s healing and new life to come into the world.
And indeed, when Jesus COMMISSIONED THE DISCIPLES to go baptize all nations….. he gave them AND US a JOB TO DO.
For he started the Church, just like St. Michaels a year ago, and he gave us the Holy Spirit so that he could WORK THROUGH US to heal people and bring them hope until he returns to take away all sin and sickness and death.
That’s why Jesus started the Church…and that’s why he gave us the Holy Spirit….to help us keep on bringing the healing of God into the world until he returns in glory.
And that’s why we Catholics stubbornly hold onto the notion that the Church is important….for all the foolishness and foibles and worth of some of its members…..because Jesus believed it was a good thing for there to be a Church THROUGH WHICH he would minister….THROUGH US….until he returned in glory – or else Jesus wouldn’t have started the Church.
And so, we now, in the Church, are the hands and feet and voice of Christ. Indeed, WE REPRESENT CHRIST when we visit a nursing home. Or help the homeless or welcome a parishioner at the door as a greeter or help with coffee and donuts or help with a Bible study or go to the sacrament of confession or of anointing.
YES, IN DOING THOSE SIMPLE THINGS, WE REPRESENT CHRIST…and CHRIST TRULY WORKS THOURHG US….to heal a broken world….and Jesus told us that OUR CHURCH WOULD BE HOW HE WOULD MINISTER TO THE WORLD UNTIL HE RETURNED IN GLORY.
Indeed, as he told Peter in Matt 16:18 –
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. And so just like JESUS WITHSTOOD FROM GLORY IN HEAVEN TO BECOMING A SON OF A POOR YOUNG MOM IN BACKWATER GALILEE…AND LATER SPAT UPON AND LOOKED DOWN UPON BY MANY OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF HIS DAY, and so also sometimes, while we also need to make choices in order to be happy – like to reach out to friends and exercise and to be with people who help us to laugh….we also are called, at times, to imitate Jesus and to pick up our cross in order to HELP OTHERS IN THIS LIFE, and IN ORDER THAT JESUS CAN WORK THROUGH US IN THE WORLD TODAY.
So that just as Jesus healed the woman today who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years….and just as Jesus raised a young lady from the dead in the Gospel today….which he never would have done if he had stayed in glory with the Father….
So we too need to leave our comfort zone to get out there to help others as well in our world today. For in the world where we have the shooting at the Alamo and so many people who could really use a kind word or a bit of our time….let’s push ourselves a bit to be people who bring Jesus to the world today.
Jesus really is depending on us to do that….I assure you of that. And if we step out to help others in our life….God will be immediately ready to use our help in transforming the world today….so that we comfort the afflicted and bring healing to the hurting and give new hope to those who are struggling.