Living Our Lives with Dignity, Grace and Integrity

07-01-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

Are you aware that the Book of Wisdom in the Old Testament was actually written a few years before the birth of Jesus Christ? The words of this book are to help us live our lives with dignity, grace and integrity. Our first reading today from this Book is a reflection on the life and death of the soul. Our particular passage does not include the section that talks about the pure materialist who eats, drinks and makes merry and claims that this is all there is. The Book of Wisdom’s author says this is all wrong, our author writes that we are imperishable. There is no second death, no death of the human spirit made in God’s image.

Today’s Gospel is about two miracles, one story inside the other’s story. This is about the official and his sick daughter, but also about a brave woman in need. She reaches out simply to touch the garment of Jesus as Our Lord walks along with the official to see his daughter. She is, in fact, cured. Then this brave act of the woman comes to light. Even though the people were flocking around Jesus, the woman is discovered. She humbly confesses her faith in Jesus’ ability to cure her, and he declares loudly that her faith has cured her. He then tells her to go on her way forever freed from the source of illness and sin.

At last, the young little girl child, too, is awakened from a sleep that is ominously undefined. At some point we come to realize it does not really matter, for she is cured and awake. These are two dramatic and touching miracles, literally and figuratively. Note how Jesus cannot seem to help himself for he must help the suffering and needy. Two desperate people reach out to him. Jesus responds, though it is clearly against the holy Law that prohibits touching a person with an issue of blood or touching a dead person.

Bear in mind that we know Jesus set out to save people, not to win arguments about man made religious rules and laws. We realize from this passage that his compassionate words and actions reveal the deepest truth of his life and of God’s life, too. For God did not make death or desire the destruction of the living.

The way of compassion so clearly announced and proclaimed as the ideal in the Book of Wisdom is found clearly and definitively in the generous companionship of Jesus as he walks with desperate Jairus and is sought by an equally desperate and brave woman. Jesus does not stand on the foolishness of artificial ceremony, nor does he claim special privileges. He leans toward Jairus, toward the woman, toward the child. This is how he wins hearts and minds of so many people. Indeed, this is how heart speaks to heart!

All of us need to decide how and when our heart speaks to other hearts. Are we willing to be like Jesus and actually not help only once, but twice. Are we measured small people, or do we have that generous heart that Christ portrays for us in this Gospel passage?

Church Construction

This past Monday, June 19th, we began our period of time when all our funerals will be celebrated at St. Jude Church, Norfolk. Our upstairs church will only be available for Saturday evening and Sunday morning Masses with Baptisms in the afternoon. This “cooperation” will reduce the construction schedule at least by 5 months, otherwise our project would take well over one year to complete. Our priests, musicians and servers will provide the funeral masses at St. Jude’s. Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this period. FYI: There are extra benches removed temporarily from the church so that they can be cut down to accommodate the wider side aisle. Some benches at the back will be permanently removed. Their Memorial Plaques are saved and will be displayed on a special memorial Board when the project is complete.

-Father Brian