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Bible Reflections View Comments

Looking Beyond What Seems Possible
By Kathleen M. Carroll
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 1, 2012
Click here to email! Email | Click here to print! Print | Size: A A |  
 
The ancients understood the sky as a fixed “roof” over the Earth. Centuries later, explorers like Columbus believed it was a sphere that surrounded the Earth—so that one could sail westward and eventually arrive in the East. Copernicus and Galileo used their observations to describe the sky as a vast space wherein the planets, Earth included, revolved around the sun.

Each time the definition of “sky,” was broadened, people were frightened. Despite that fear, new possibilities, new (literal) horizons opened up. Europeans discovered the New World. Astronauts golfed on the moon. Today, we have probes exploring deep space
and the Hubble Space Telescope provides images of galaxies so far distant that looking at them means looking back in time.

None of this could have happened if we had taken things at face value. We would still be sure that the sun revolves around the Earth. Our maps would still be marked with “Here there be dragons” along the edges. And the Wright brothers would have kept to their bicycle repairs so as not to run into the sky. Of course, there is no “sky.” There never was. There was only a limit to our vision, our imagination, our faith.

Today’s Gospel challenges us to expand our vision and strengthen our faith. Jairus, a synagogue official, comes to Jesus, begging for his young daughter’s life. Given the reception Jesus so often received by the religious authorities of his day, this is something
of a miracle in itself. Jairus has opened his mind to the possibility that this new teacher, this healer, can help.

Similarly, the woman who had been ill for twelve years had been disappointed by many doctors. Her illness made her an outcast, ritually unclean. She should not have been out in public at all, much less in a crowd, and it was out of the question to touch a rabbi (as
Jesus was) and render him unclean. She is desperate, but also hopeful. A pragmatic person might have asked her: If no doctor has been able to help you in twelve years, why should this wonder-worker be any different? If no self-respecting rabbi would so much as speak to you, why would Jesus heal you? Yet she believes—not merely that Jesus can heal her, but that the mere touch of his clothing can do so. Knowing what has happened Jesus stops to confront this woman. As always, he takes the focus off of the miracle. The power this healing has displayed pales in comparison to the power of his message. He makes clear
to the woman that her faith has healed her.

When news comes that Jairus’s daughter has died, Jesus presses on. His response to the mourners makes clear that death is no obstacle for him. Raising the girl from the dead, he urges the mourners, “What is needed is faith.”

As we all know too well, God does not heal everyone who is ill. Suffering and death are our constant companions. Jesus does not offer physical healing to all of us, but he offers what he knows to be even more desperately needed—faith. God’s power is not limited by distance, by difficulty or by death. God offers us an unbounded universe of goodness, inviting us to share in his own divine life. The only limit to what God can do in our lives is the one we set ourselves—the limit of our faith.


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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog The commandments are a gift, not a curse. Sin is less about breaking the rules and more about breaking the Father’s heart.

 
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