13th sunday in ordinary time

Today’s readings deal with the topic of death.  In Wisdom we are told: “God did not make death; He does not rejoice in the distraction of the living.  For He fashioned all things that they might exist.  He formed them to be imperishable.

In today’s Gospel story we hear that Jairus’ daughter is dead.  Undaunted by this report, Jesus goes and takes her hand and says: “Little girl, get up.”  She stands up immediately.

On the one hand, we note that these readings do not deny the destroying power of death.  But on the other hand, they also declare that in the end death will be defeated by life.

Implicit in these readings is a hint of the day of our own resurrection, when we too will get up from the sleep of death and our imperishable nature will be fully revealed.  Then will the saying of today’s Psalm 30 be true.  “Our mourning will be changed into dancing and we will forever give thanks to the Lord.”

Nevertheless, the thought of death still arouses a lot of dread in us and depresses us.  We need to think about how we deal with death personally.  Some of us try to escape death, at least for the moment.  We delude ourselves into thinking that we can defeat death, at least temporarily, by distracting ourselves with drugs, sex or excitement.

Some try to accept death philosophically.  They claim that death is not opposed to life, but is  essential for its growth and maturity.  The specter of death can make us live with greater urgency and intensity.

Then there are some of us who are able to face death with faith in Jesus Christ.  Ultimately it is our faith in the resurrection of the body that enables us to defeat death decisively.  Ours is a faith which allows us to read the gospel story about Jairus’ daughter not as a remembrance of a past historical happening, but as a proclamation and promise of our own rising from the dead by the hand of Jesus.

God Bless,

Msgr. Powell

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings remind us that although we have learned to harness some of the forces of nature with modern science and technology, it seems there will always be some forces beyond our control and subject only to the control of God Himself.

Our readings are a sober reminder of this.  The Old Testament reading from Job and the Gospel reading from Mark are bracketed together by  the word “who”.  The setting of both readings is that of a storm.  In Job we read: “Who shut the sea within doors?  Who set limits to it?”

The Gospel scene is also set in a storm.  After Jesus is awakened, he quiets the storm and His disciples ask: “Who can this be that the wind and the waves obey  Him?”

The who question in both readings is one of those larger—than—life questions like “who am I?” and “were am I going?”  The who question compels us to confront the existential questions of “who is Jesus?” and “who is God?”

To answer these questions we have to go back to the creation story of Genesis.  According to ancient mythical stories of the near East, creation resulted when God subdued the forces of chaotic waters and set bounds to them.

Behind the miracle story is an awareness that only God has power to order and sustain creation.  The disciples final question shows that they recognize that Jesus here does what the Old Testament knew God alone could do.  God’s power is now at work in Jesus.  Artists have often used the image of a boat to symbolize the Church.  Since the parish and the individual families of the parish are the Church in miniature, the boat is also an apt symbol for us.  Many times the storms of life cause us to cry out in fear for God’s help.

Sometimes the storm arises from a severe alcohol or drug problem or because of some overwhelming economic or health problem.  We feel that our boat is at the breaking point and that we are going under.  But if we have faith in the Lords’ power to control these forces in our lives, we can ride out the storm and reach the shore.

At other times a storm may arise because of a feeling of discouragement or depression, or because we feel unappreciated or lonely.  However, if our faith in the Lord’s presence is strong enough, we can make it through the storm and regain our equilibrium.  Who controls our destiny?   Jesus does, if we only let Him steady our hands and steer our ship.

God Bless

Msgr. Powell

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel we have two parables about the Kingdom of God.  Like the seed that a farmer sows, there is an inner life and power to God’s Kingdom.  The farmer no more puts life in the seed than those who serve God’s Kingdom are responsible for its power.  On a day to day basis, it may not seem like the Kingdom of God is  breaking into the world.  But neither can we see plants grow by staring at them.

Jesus spent most of His time preaching in the small villages of Galilee– about as unimportant a place as the Son of God could have chosen for His mission.  Yet from this insignificant, mustard– seed beginning the Kingdom of God was established in the universe.

If God does not seem to be acting now, like a farmer asleep for the night, His Kingdom is unfolding all the same.  The beginning of God’s reign may look tiny, like a mustard seed, but the final flowering will be majestic.

Times are such today that we find ourselves oppressed by many social issues.  We are often ridiculed for our stand about decency in public entertainment and our stance on the problems within our world.  Like the faithful people who lived before us, we need to be reassured,  to be reaffirmed in our faith in God’s power to take our tiny efforts and make them grow.

No matter how small our efforts may be to promote Christian causes, god will multiply them with His hidden power to bring about magnificent results.  He has accomplished it in the past and He will do it again through us.

We may not see these results in our own lifetime, but the parables of Jesus are a promise that they will happen in His own time.

God Bless,

Msgr. Powell