Sunday, July 08, 2018

…and the little girl arose

…and the little girl arose

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD. Hosea 2:21-22

When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. Matthew 9:23-25

Lord, help us to focus on mercy for two thousand lost children in our country in addition to the 12 Thai soccer players stranded in a cave. Help us to raise them up from their unknown locations and reunite these lost children with their parents.

Resurrection is not something to take lightly.  In the readings for today’s Mass, we encounter one literal death and one figurative death.  Faith saves them both and brings them back to life in the community.

There was little doubt in the mind of the synagogue official that his daughter died. The flute players had already been called.  The woman suffering from hemorrhages for a dozen years might as well have been considered dead.  She would have been made an outcast among the community. People would shun her to protect themselves from becoming impure.

Was the official’s daughter dead or not?  The reference to “sleep” in the context of the official’s daughter is an extended metaphor for death.  Jesus’ statement is not a denial of the child’s real death, but an assurance that she will be roused from her sleep of death.  And arouse her he does indeed. 

In both cases, Jesus rewards the combination of an inner conviction that physical contact accompanied by faith in Jesus’ saving power could affect a cure.  Each little resurrection foreshadows his ultimate conquest over death.  Until then, Jesus must seem like Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show to those “old wineskins” without room in their heart to have faith in Jesus. But to those with faith?  Ah, they know heaven on earth!

Jesus also did not differentiate where he placed his Divine Mercy.  It did not matter that one request came from a synagogue official and the other came from a common woman who had no powerful position or influence.  Their faith was put to the test: Would his daughter or the woman actually be restored to full membership in the community?  Their examples of faith contrast with the lack of faith of the crowd.

Jesus had ONE LITMUS test:  Faith.  He did not say your membership in the synagogue saved you.  He did not say your citizenship in Israel saved you.  He did not say what he told the crowd: “Go away!”  He did say: “Your faith has saved you.”  Jesus reacted the only way he knows how – with mercy, with compassion, with love. Truly, Jesus espouses all in justice, right, love and mercy.

Contemplate today’s Gospel of mercy as you read about the recent action by the USCCB on the US – Mexico border.

A group of four bishops, including U.S. bishops' conference president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston-Galveston, visited a respite center in McAllen, Texas. They met with fathers, mothers and children — many of whom spent weeks migrating by foot from their homes in Mexico and Central America — feeding them, handing out clothes and praying with them.

"We can be a nation of laws without being a nation without compassion," Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, said during his homily at a Mass for the immigrants.

Regrettably, the "cardiosclerosis" of our present political climate is not attuned to analysis and problem solving. That does not mean that we should not weigh in on the issue and make our priorities clear. On June 30, protesters marched in droves in cities across the country from Washington, D.C., to Redding, California, to show their continued opposition to Trump's policies that amount to treating migrants as animals.

For four bishops, that protest came in the form of a personal and, we hope, enlightening two days along the Mexican-Texas border.
Flores was right. We don't have to let compassion be tossed aside by our legal systems. It's been proven we are a nation of laws. Now, let's work on the compassion part.[i]

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