Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Psalm 30: 2, 4-6, 11-13
2) 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15
Gospel: Mk 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35-43
At the center of Michelangelo’s masterpiece painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling is the fresco of God creating Adam. It’s a familiar image you’ve most likely seen before. God, depicted as an old bearded, majestic figure, reaches out of the swirling heavens to touch Adam who reclines on the ground.
God’s right hand and Adam’s left hand stretch yearningly out to each other. Michelangelo captures that originating moment when God breathes life into Adam. It is the touch of their hands — divine and human — that sparks human life into the world.
God’s creative hand has never stopped touching the world with new life, as the author of the Book of Wisdom reminds us in the first reading: “For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” Ever since the creation of the world God reaches out to touch us, his creatures, with life-giving love.
The Israelites experienced God’s hand in the divine offer of covenant love. God’s providential care guided, protected and renewed the divine covenant in the face of the people’s infidelities and sin. Even as creatures chose death and alienation, God touched his people over and over again with life-giving love.
In today’s Gospel Jesus performs two miracles. The healing stories are enfolded, one within the other, to concentrate our attention on the true meaning of Jesus’ healings.
Jesus had just heard Jairus, a synagogue official, who pleads for his daughter’s healing, saying, “Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” It was well-known that Jesus’ hands conveyed the healing power of God.
Then as Jesus journeys to Jairus’ house a woman suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years turns in faith to the power of Jesus’ healing hand. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Her faith moved her to touch Jesus’ cloak in the midst of the crowd. She was healed instantly.
The disciples of Jesus are puzzled by his question, “Who has touched my clothes?” Once the woman acknowledges her action, Jesus praises her faith in God’s healing power.
Jesus teaches his disciples and us that the source of his healing power is God. His healing power is not of human origin or the result of some clever magical tricks. Jesus draws attention to God who is at work in every healing experience.
God reaches out over and over again, as he did at the dawn of creation, to breathe new life into our tired, burdensome wounds, be they physical, mental or spiritual.
Soon after Jesus arrives at Jairus’ house he heals the young girl, restoring her to family, health and new life. Jesus sees in the faith of Jairus and in the faith of the woman with the hemorrhages the divine power at work in their lives.
Today Jesus continues to heal in his word and in the sacraments. With God’s grace our faith can lead us to touch Jesus’ healing hand as we pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
How does the Holy Spirit lead you to faith in Jesus’ healing power?
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Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.