But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O God, who through the grace of adoption
chose us to be children of light,
grant, we pray,
that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error
but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24
God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
and there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the netherworld on earth,
for justice is undying.
For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who belong to his company experience it.
That God created us for immortality, that is, for an unending life after we die is not news to us Christians. It is our reason for being Christians; it is the reason why we follow Christ. As St. Paul says: “If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people ” (1 Cor. 15: 19). What would be the purpose of self-mortification, of obeying commandments, of trying to serve God and neighbor if all ended in death? But, of course, human life does not end in death, natural life does, but our natural death is only the beginning of our eternal existence.
Christ came on earth, as we Christians know, in order to put into action God’s eternal plan for us men. God could have found other ways of sharing his heaven with us after the end of our life here, but he chose the way and the means that would best show forth his infinite love and his infinite interest in us. He sent his Son to become man on earth, in order to make us his brothers and co-heirs to heaven. We now have a claim on God. Eternal life is a free-gift to us on his part but because Christ is our brother, we now have a legal claim, as it were, to it. Once the incarnation took place all men, except those who deliberately exclude themselves, become heirs to heaven, co-heirs with Christ. Being an heir gives one a legal right to the inheritance.
We Christians who know this, who know that we shall go to heaven when we breathe our last on earth, provided we are loyal to Christ and the faith he gave us, do not think enough about this. It is the most important event that can ever happen to us and we do not meditate on it sufficiently often. The terrifying thought is that we could lose our inheritance, that we could exclude ourselves from that one place that can satisfy our every desire and find ourselves at the judgement seat unfit to have been such unfortunate Christians in the past; there will be others in the years to come and we could be among them. Whatever about the nature of the fires of hell, there can be no doubt about the reality of the heart-burning regret and remorse which will keep gnawing at the Christian who will then realize what he has lost–and irrevocably lost forever.
However, we can insure ourselves against such a dreadful calamity. We can make sure that we shall be found worthy when our call to judgement comes : simply by trying always to be in God’s friendship. Let each one of us ask himself how he would fare if he were called to judgement this moment. Am I worthy of heaven as I stand here and now? If there are black marks against me, I have the means and the divine helps left to me by Christ to erase these marks. If whole pages of my book of life have been smeared and spattered with ugly sins and dreadful offenses against God and neighbor, I can tear out all these pages and begin to write my life story anew. While I am alive, God’s infinite mercy is available to me for the asking. He cannot force his mercy on me against my will, but he is pleased to give it, if asked.
“God created me for incorruption, that is, for the unending, happy life of heaven. He wants me there. He sent his Son on earth to endure humiliations and sufferings so that I would get there. I would be ungrateful, thankless to God and so forgetful of my own best interests if I failed to get there. God forbid that this should happen to me!
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.1 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.2 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.3
1 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.
2 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.
3 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.
Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15
Brothers and sisters:
As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also.
For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality.
As it is written:
Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less.
In the midst of all his trials and troubles, bowed down as he was with worry and care for his many newly-founded churches, the big-hearted and generous St. Paul found time to think of the needy church of Jerusalem. He had not labored in the formation of that church but, having visited Jerusalem more than once, he knew the dire poverty in which most of the Christians of Jerusalem and Palestine lived. Many of them, including many priests and Levites had lived off the temple revenues before their conversion. They now had lost that means of support and could find no means of a livelihood in that poor country. Though Asia Minor and Greece were not affluent countries by today’s standards, they were rich when compared with Palestine. St. Paul knew this, and his Christian love for all of Christ’s brothers moved him to take practical steps to help them in their need. That the result was good we can be sure; it brought material help to the needy of Palestine and it brought the blessing of God on the charitable Gentiles.
In organizing this good work of mercy, St. Paul was but carrying out the teaching of our divine Lord. He himself, as St. Paul tells us today, set us an example of infinite charity, infinite giving to the destitute human race. “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” He was God in the infinite glory and happiness of heaven. “He emptied himself of this divine glory to assume the condition of a slave and became as men are . . . humbler yet, even to accepting death on a cross” (Ph. 2: 7-8). Christ came to us in our desperate need. Depriving himself of his right to divine glory, while here on earth, he willingly sacrificed also the humanity he had assumed and died the shameful death of the cross, in order to raise us up from our mere natural state to the privileged position of sons of God and heirs to heaven.
This was, of course, infinite charity, infinite love of others in need—a charity from which we all have profited. He expects us all to imitate this love even if only in our own limited way. He expects us to help our neighbor, that is our fellowman, whenever he is in need. This is made crystal clear in his description of the judgement day. “The king will say (on that day) : come you blessed, possess the kingdom prepared for you since the world was made. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when thirsty you gave me drink naked you clothed me . . . for anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did for me ” (Mt. 25: 34-40). It is true, of course, that the other virtues will be on the credit side for the just on judgement day; the other vices will be on the debit side for the wicked. But what Christ is stressing here is the basic law of charity, love of God and neighbor. Love of neighbor is the proof that God is loved. If this law is not kept, then keeping the rest of the Commandments will not help us when our account books are checked on judgement day.
This judgement is an examination awaiting all of us, and on it our eternity will depend. In preparing for examinations it is very helpful to know what kind of questions were asked in previous years. After hearing our Lord’s own description of the judgement day, we can be in no doubt as to the basic question he will put to us. Were we or were we not charitable to our needy fellowman? Did we do all we could to alleviate his sufferings and his want? If we did, it was to Christ himself that we were giving help and thus we can expect full marks on that question. But if we turned a deaf ear to all the charitable appeals we turned a deaf ear to Christ and we can hardly expect him to hear our “Lord, Lord” and our appeal for mercy on our fateful examination day.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,1 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:
– already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;2
– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;3
– in his word which purifies its hearers;4
– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;5
- and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.6
CCC 1083 The dual dimension of the Christian liturgy as a response of faith and love to the spiritual blessings the Father bestows on us is thus evident. On the one hand, the Church, united with her Lord and “in the Holy Spirit,”7 blesses the Father “for his inexpressible gift”8 in her adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. On the other hand, until the consummation of God’s plan, the Church never ceases to present to the Father the offering of his own gifts and to beg him to send the Holy Spirit upon that offering, upon herself, upon the faithful, and upon the whole world, so that through communion in the death and resurrection of Christ the Priest, and by the power of the Spirit, these divine blessings will bring forth the fruits of life “to the praise of his glorious grace.”9
CCC 1351 From the very beginning Christians have brought, along with the bread and wine for the Eucharist, gifts to share with those in need. This custom of the collection, ever appropriate, is inspired by the example of Christ who became poor to make us rich:10
Those who are well off, and who are also willing, give as each chooses. What is gathered is given to him who presides to assist orphans and widows, those whom illness or any other cause has deprived of resources, prisoners, immigrants and, in a word, all who are in need.11
CCC 2122 “The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty.”12 The competent authority determines these “offerings” in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church’s ministers. “The laborer deserves his food.”13
CCC 2407 In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires the practice of the virtue of temperance, so as to moderate attachment to this world’s goods; the practice of the virtue of justice, to preserve our neighbor’s rights and render him what is his due; and the practice of solidarity, in accordance with the golden rule and in keeping with the generosity of the Lord, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake. .. became poor so that by his poverty, you might become rich.”14
CCC 2546 “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”15 The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs:16
The Word speaks of voluntary humility as “poverty in spirit”; the Apostle gives an example of God’s poverty when he says: “For your sakes he became poor.”17
CCC 2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.18 Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel19 but also intercedes for them.20 The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: “for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions,” for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.21
CCC 2833 “Our” bread is the “one” loaf for the “many.” In the Beatitudes “poverty” is the virtue of sharing: it calls us to communicate and share both material and spiritual goods, not by coercion but out of love, so that the abundance of some may remedy the needs of others.22
1 Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19.
2 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.
3 Cf. Lk 2:51.
4 Cf. Jn 15:3.
5 Mt 8:17; cf. Is 53:4.
6 Cf. Rom 4:25.
7 Lk 10:21.
8 2 Cor 9:15.
9 Eph 1:6.
11 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 67: PG 6, 429.
12 CIC, can. 848.
13 Mt 10:10; cf. Lk 10:7; 2 Cor 9:5-18; 1 Tim 5:17-18.
14 2 Cor 8:9.
15 Mt 5:3.
16 Cf. Lk 6:20.
17 St. Gregory of Nyssa, De beatitudinibus 1: PG 44, 1200D; cf. 2 Cor 8:9.
18 Cf. Acts 12:5; 20:36; 21:5; 2 Cor 9:14.
19 Cf. Eph 6:18-20; Col 4:3-4; 1 Thess 5:25.
20 Cf. 2 Thess 1:11; Col 1:3; Phil 1:3-4.
21 2 Tim 2:1; cf. Rom 12:14; 10:1.
22 Cf. 2 Cor 8:1-15.
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him,
and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to Jesus,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.
Today’s gospel gives us two further proofs of the divine power and the infinite mercy of our Savior. Apart from the primary purpose of proving his claim to be the promised Messiah, all his miracles had as their aim and end : the benefit of suffering human beings. He worked no miracle for the sake of astonishing people, or to satisfy idle gossip. Each one was performed in order to help someone in distress. All who were helped by his miracles of mercy had one thing in common – they were motivated by trust in his mercy and power. The leper in Matthew (8: 2) expressed the sentiments of them all: “Lord, if only you will you can cleanse me (of my leprosy).” In many cases, as for instance that of Jarius above, it was a relative or friends who showed this faith and confidence. It was always present either in the fortunate person or in the relative or friend who asked for the miracle.
The Gospels give us only some of the many miracles our Lord worked. They give them to prove that he was what he claimed to be : the Son of God and the long-expected Savior, and also to prove his compassionate understanding and sympathy for suffering humanity.
We must not forget, however, that the meaning of his miracles and his mission was lost on thousands of his contemporaries in Palestine, small though the country was. While great throngs followed our Lord and listened to his message and were interested in his mission, still great throngs remained at home, stolidly immersed in their worldly tasks and thoughts. They heard rumors about the man from Nazareth who was said to be the Messiah, and was supposed to be able to work miracles, but they were too practical, too sensible to listen to such rumors. Anyway they had no interest in the Messiah, or in silly spiritual things, they were fully occupied with their financial and worldly interests.
Has the world changed much in nineteen centuries? How many millions of nominal Christians ignore Christ and his Gospel today, millions who are too practical, too down-to-earth to waste time on such a silly thing as their eternal salvation! How many millions are spiritually sick and dying but who have not the faith, humility and confidence of Jairus, to cast themselves at the feet of Jesus and ask him to cure them? How fortunate would not people be if they would repeat the leper’s prayer: ” Lord, if only you will you can make me clean”; if they could, like the suffering woman in today’s Gospel, break through the throng of worldly pride, worldly interests and worldly associates and touch the hem of his garment; if they had the faith of Jairus; if only they could say to our Lord: come and lay your hands upon me so that I may be made well and live.”?
Today, let us say a fervent prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gift of active faith which he has given us and beg of him to keep that faith ever alive in our breasts. Let us think, too, of our fellowman, our brothers in Christ, who are so busy with their worldly occupations and pleasures that they cannot find time to listen to his message. They are spiritually anemic and almost spiritually dead, but cannot push their way toward Christ through the throngs of earthly, worldly barricades which they have built about themselves. Our sincere prayers can help them to overcome these obstacles; frequently and fervently let us ask God to send them his efficacious grace so that these brothers in Christ will also be with him in heaven.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM and used with permission of Ignatius Press.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”,1 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.2 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.3
CCC 548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.4 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask.5 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.6 But his miracles can also be occasions for “offense”;7 they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.8
CCC 994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the life.”9 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.10 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,11 announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the “sign of Jonah,”12 the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.13
CCC 1504 Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.14 He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands,15 mud and washing.16 The sick try to touch him, “for power came forth from him and healed them all.”17 And so in the sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us.
CCC 2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief)18 or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).19 The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”20 Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus’ prayer: “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us.”21
1 Lk 2:52.
2 Cf. Mk 6 38; 8 27; Jn 11:34; etc.
3 Phil 2:7.
4 cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 38.
5 Cf. Mk 5:25-34; 10:52; etc.
6 Cf. Jn 10:31-38.
7 Mt 11:6.
8 Cf. Jn 11:47-48; Mk 3:22.
9 Jn 11:25.
10 Cf. Jn 5:24-25; 6:40,54.
11 Cf. Mk 5:21-42; Lk 7:11-17; Jn 11.
12 Mt 12:39.
13 Cf. Mk 10:34; Jn 2:19-22.
14 Cf. Mk 5:34, 36; 9:23.
15 Cf. Mk 7:32-36; 8:22-25.
16 Cf. Jn 9:6-7.
17 Lk 6:19; cf. Mk 1:41; 3:10; 6:56.
18 Cf. Mk 1:40-41; 5:36; 7:29; Cf. Lk 23:39-43.
19 Cf. Mk 25; 5:28; Lk 7:37-38.
20 Mt 9:27, Mk 10:48.
21 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 85, 1: PL 37, 1081; cf. GILH 7.
The Heart of God
The Old Testament speaks of God’s Heart twenty-six times. It is regarded as the organ of his will, against which man is measured… It is the Logos which is at the center of us all – without our knowing – for the center of man is the heart, and in the heart there is the guiding energy of the whole, which is the Logos. It is the Logos which enables us to be logical, to correspond to the Logos; he is the image of God after which we were created… It is here, in the heart, that the birth of the divine Logos in man takes place, that man is united with the personal, incarnate Word of God… The heart is the locus of the saving encounter with the Logos… The pierced Heart of Jesus… is not concerned with self-preservation but with self-surrender. It saves the world by opening itself… The Heart saves, indeed, but it saves by giving itself away. Thus, in the Heart of Jesus, the center of Christianity is set before us. It expresses everything, all that is genuinely new and revolutionary in the New Covenant. This Heart calls to our heart. It invites us to step forth out of the futile attempt of self-preservation and, by joining in the task of love, by handing ourselves over to him and with him, to discover the fullness of love which alone is eternity and which alone sustains the world.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Lord, You invite all who are burdened to come to You. Allow your healing hand to heal me. Touch my soul with Your compassion for others. Touch my heart with Your courage and infinite love for all. Touch my mind with Your wisdom, that my mouth may always proclaim Your praise. Teach me to reach out to You in my need, and help me to lead others to You by my example. Most loving Heart of Jesus, bring me health in body and spirit that I may serve You with all my strength. Touch gently this life which You have created, now and forever. Amen.