HOMILY ILLUSTRATIONSFR TONY'S COMMENTARYHOMILIES FOR CHILDREN

13th Sunday of Year B

CHRIST THE REDEEMER OF THE ANDES

Once the people of Chile and Argentina argued over the boundary between their two countries. Later, they agreed to live at peace and erected a statue to remind them of that agreement. The Argentine sculptor melted down cannons from his country’s army to form a statue of Christ. It stands today in the Andes Mountains on the border between the two countries. One hand of Christ holds a cross while the other is raised in a blessing.

For Christ is that agent of transforming power who changes hostilities into peace, injustices into brotherhood, and sufferings into a life with purpose.

We can look forward to the continuation of that power in his world beyond our boundary, as well. Healing, knitting together fragile bits of our fractured bodies and souls, remains God’s most basic on-going creative work in the cosmos. While God continues to intervene as Divine Physician, He has already provided us with a universal vaccine for our ills in the principle of love and the person of Jesus Christ.

HEALING TOUCH

The benefits of hugging range from lower blood pressure to a decrease in stress hormones. It’s no wonder we crave hugs so much!

Studies have shown that hugging communicates tenderness, gentleness, caring-ness –behaviors essential for healing of both body and soul. Hugging, they say, relieves many physical and emotional problems, helps people live longer, maintains health, relieves stress, and promotes sleep. The studies also show that hemoglobin, the portion of blood that carries oxygen, increases significantly when people are touched.

There’s your answer for those who say the Peace Exchange is artificial! And it certainly gives husbands and wives, parents and children, and significant others good reason to hug and hug and hug!

Jesus believed in and made good use of, the essential healing touch, even when someone else, believing, did the touching, for that touch drew out Divine Power, power, and virtue, and brought healing to the one who had reached out in Faith for it. — Let’s remember that. It’s a good reason to keep human touch on a high level. Keep in touch with Jesus by Faith and you’ll feel power and newness flowing into and through you. There is healing in the touch!

IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICAL TOUCH

In the anecdote below you will read how the elderly can bring life back to babies. In this video, babies bring life back to the elderly. Physical touch can make the difference in both directions.

The Menninger Institute in Topeka, Kansas once had a fascinating experiment. They identified a group of crib babies who did not cry. Let me explain. It seems that babies cry because they instinctively know that that is the way to get attention. Crying is their way of calling out.

These babies, however, had been in abusive situations. Their parents let them cry for hours on end and never responded. Do you know what happened? The babies eventually quit crying. It was almost as though they knew that it was not worth trying.

So the Menninger Institute came in for an experiment. They got some people from retirement and even nursing homes, and every day these people held these babies and rocked them. The object was to get these children to start crying again. And you know, it worked. Physical touch had made the difference.

Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus’ touch healed a woman and resuscitated a girl.

Henry Nouwen: The Wounded Healer

“[Nouwen] talks about ‘Living the question,'” says Ken Wytsma, President of Kilns College and Pastor of Antioch Church in Bend, OR. The struggle with the messiness of life is a part of faith, but in the midst of that we can still imitate Christ by showing love and healing. Even in our pain, we can find joy through the act of love. “It’s the act of loving that allows us to feel love.”

Perhaps Henri Nouwen, the Catholic theologian, has said this better than anyone else. The author of many books, Nouwen speaks of Christians as “wounded healers” who have compassion.

Compassion is not pity. Pity lets us stay at a distance. It is condescending. Compassion is not sympathy. Sympathy is for superiors to give to inferiors. Compassion is not charity. Charity is for the rich to continue in their status over the poor. Compassion is born of God. It means entering into the other person’s problems. It means taking on the burdens of the other. It means standing in the other person’s shoes. It is the opposite of professionalism. It is the humanizing way to deal with people.

“Just as bread without love can bring war instead of peace, professionalism without compassion will turn forgiveness into a gimmick.”

LIFE MESSAGE FROM FR. TONY

WE NEED TO CONTINUE THE HEALING MISSION OF THE CHURCH

As members of the Church, we are not excused from our vocation to be healers. When a friend of ours is terminally ill, the skill of the doctors and their advanced medical tools often become powerless. What the patient needs in such a situation is our care, concern, and prayerful presence, enabling them to experience through us the love, compassion and mercy of Jesus. We do our share of Christ’s healing mission by visiting the sick, by praying for their healing, and by boosting their morale through our loving presence, encouragement, support, and inspiration.

Fr. Tony’s 8-minute Homily in 1 page

 

OUR TOWN: WONDER

“[Nouwen] talks about ‘Living the question,'” says Ken Wytsma, President of Kilns College and Pastor of Antioch Church in Bend, OR. The struggle with the messiness of life is a part of faith, but in the midst of that we can still imitate Christ by showing love and healing. Even in our pain, we can find joy through the act of love. “It’s the act of loving that allows us to feel love.”

In Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town, Emily Webb comes back from the dead to the town of her childhood. There she finds all her long-dead acquaintances alive and her mother and father, too. The town is still the same as she remembers it when she was a child — except for one thing.

The sheer beauty and wonder of everything she sees is overwhelming. Every sight and sound, every gesture of love, each tender grace between friends is almost too much for her to bear. She had never realized the miracle of her life when she was living it.

Faith is strengthened through the pleasure that comes from remembering the miracle stories. But it’s not just that. When we choose Faith over control and “let God be God,” we have a much better chance of experiencing those miracles of God’s grace all around us right now.

THE CHILD IS NOT DEAD, BUT ASLEEP

Martin College in Pulaski, Tennessee has one of the oldest cemeteries in the state in Pulaski, dated back to 1810-1850. They have made a park of it and placed all of the tombstones where they can be easily read. It is heart-wrenching to see that one out of three graves is that of a child, a stark reminder of the incredible infant mortality rate in those rugged days.

But I noticed something else. On almost every tombstone of a child, there is chiseled on the bottom of the stone Jesus’ words: “The child is not dead but asleep.” It was then that I realized how many tens of thousands of parents throughout the last 2,000 years have taken so much comfort from these words. These are words of hope.

PEOPLE WHO FEEL BEATEN UP

Pat Kelly, a major league outfielder in the ’70s, was a born-again Christian. One day Pat said to his manager, Earl Weaver, “Aren’t you glad I walk with the Lord, Earl?” Weaver replied, “I’d rather you walked with the bases loaded.”

Sports are popular because they are a metaphor for our life experience. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes you feel like the champion of the world. Sometimes you just feel beaten up.

Our lesson for today is about two people who felt beaten up. One was a righteous Jew named Jairus whose daughter was dying. The other heartsick person in our story is a woman who had been ill for twelve years with an issue of blood that doctors couldn’t cure.

HEALTHIEST HOUR OF THE WEEK

Dr. Granger Westberg, the founder of Wholistic Medicine, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, asks this question when he talks to nurses, doctors, and pastors: “What is the healthiest hour of the week?” How would you answer that question?

Dr. Westberg surprises many people by answering, “The hour of worship on Sunday morning.” Why is that true? In order to answer that question we need to consider two other questions which Dr. Westberg often puts to his audiences: (1) What is the major factor in sickness? and (2) What is the major factor in health? How would you answer those questions

One medical study shows that the major cause of sickness is desiring revenge. Dr. Westberg quotes a survey of stroke patients most of whom admitted that there was someone against whom they felt a significant desire for revenge. In many cases, that desire for revenge is a repressed feeling, an attitude instead of an expressed action. That same medical study shows that the major factor in staying healthy is gratitude.

The ancient psalmists had the right idea: “Praise is comely for the upright.” Worship at its best offers the opportunity to resolve conflict through forgiveness and to express feelings of gratitude through praising God for His acts of grace and mercy. At its best, the Church is a healing community. The Church can only be at its best when the members center on and conform themselves to Jesus, the Healer as described in today’s healing stories.

POWER IN WEAKNESS

Joseph Stalin, dictator of Soviet Russia from 1924 to 1953, was an ex-Christian who had become an utter materialist. After his death, even the Russian Communists reversed his ruthless policies that had led to the “liquidation” (a nice word for killing) of millions of people who got in his way. Materialistic dictators think in terms of power, and power usually means armies and weapons. When the papacy was brought into international diplomatic discussion in the 1930’s, Stalin asked how many divisions of soldiers the Holy Father had at his disposal. Winston Churchill told the story in his memoirs, The Second World War. It seems that in 1935 France signed a vague agreement with Soviet Russia to give mutual assistance against aggression. French Premier Pierre Laval followed up the treaty with a visit to Moscow, during which he discussed politics with Stalin. Stalin was anxious to know just how many divisions of soldiers France had on the western front. When Laval had told him, he also brought up another matter that was important to France diplomatically. “Can’t you do something to encourage religion and the Catholics in Russia?” the French premier dared to ask the atheist dictator. “It would help me so much with the Pope.” “Oh” Stalin replied. “The Pope! How many divisions has he got?” Laval knew he had been brushed off. — The only army the Popes have is their small ceremonial Swiss Guard. Militarily, they are powerless. But as a moral force, they are very powerful. The papacy has outlived Hitler, Stalin, and a host of “Strongmen” over the centuries. Popes can say, with St. Paul, “When I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10. Today’s second reading.). -Father Robert F. McNamara.

LIFE MESSAGE FROM FR. TONY

WE NEED TO ACCEPT GOD’S CALL TO HEALTH, WHOLENESS AND HOLINESS 

Jesus accepts us as we are. Hence, let us bring our bodily illnesses and spiritual wounds to Jesus for healing. We should pray for healing which will give us spiritual and physical health in every aspect of our lives, so that we may function in perfect harmony with the Will of God, with the people around us, and with the environment. As Christians, we believe that Jesus continues to heal us through human instruments in the medical profession, like doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. Hence, when we go to a doctor, we need to offer a prayer to Christ, the Divine Healer, that we may choose the right doctor, who will make the correct diagnosis, prescribe the correct treatment, and give us the correct medicine. Let us not forget the truth that, over, above and beyond the ability and skill of the greatest human healer, Christ still works wonders of healing. Let us also thank God for the great gift of health and use it for helping those who are sick.

Fr. Tony’s 8-minute Homily in 1 page

 

View More Homily Starter Anecdotes compiled by Fr. Tony

13th Sunday of Year B

Fr. Tony’s 8-minute Homily in 1 page

THE GIFT OF LIFE

Today’s readings speak of the gift of life, both physical and spiritual, that God has given us. They urge and challenge us to be grateful for our health in body and soul and to use God’s gifts of life and health responsibly.

The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, tells us that God gave us life and health, and that it was the jealousy of Satan which produced illness and death. The reading also suggests that the goal of our lives on earth is to know, to love, and to serve God here with perfect health in body and soul, and to share God’s immortal life forever. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 30), celebrates Christ’s victory over death.

The Psalm refrain, “I will praise you Lord, for You have rescued me,” allows us to join the Psalm in thanksgiving, for by Jesus’ Sacrificial death, we, too, have been rescued from spiritual death by having our sins forgiven: “O Lord, You brought me up from the nether world; You preserved me from among those going down into the pit! … At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing…. You changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give You thanks!”

In the second reading, St. Paul asks the Corinthian Christian community to show to their impoverished, suffering Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem the same generous kindness and compassion Jesus showed in healing all who came to Him believing. Paul asked the Corinthians to be generous in their contributions to a fund being collected for these suffering, starving brothers and sisters. We see that the generosity of Jesus is central in today’s readings as well: Paul describes Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection as “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today’s Gospel describes two of our Lord’s miracles, the healing of a woman who suffered from a chronic bleeding disease, and the returning of the dead daughter of Jairus to life.   These healings teach us that Jesus wills life, full life, for all God’s children. The two healings also reveal Jesus as a generous, kind, compassionate God Who wills that men should live their wholesome lives fully, and they offer us further proof of the Divine power and Infinite mercy of our Savior Jesus. These miracles were worked by Jesus as rewards for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Although the Faith of the ruler may have been defective, and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, Jesus amply rewarded the Faith they had by granting them health and life.

FIRST READING

First Reading – Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24

This reading complements the Gospel theme by explaining the origins of evil and death in the world. In today’s Gospel, Jesus revives a dead girl and cures a woman of her chronic illness. We ask the perennial question: “How can a good God permit, evils like poverty, AIDS, holocausts, random mass-shootings and terrorist attacks?”

Today’s passage defends the goodness of God, stating, “God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living” (Wis 1:13). The author of Wisdom is talking about the death which results from sin, — eternal separation from God. The author of sin and death is the devil, and when we sin we cooperate in the devil’s plan for our own destruction. Our God is a God of Life. His will for us is that we should have more abundant life.

The truth that man’s real destiny is an unending Life with God is stated for the first time in the Old Testament in the Book of Wisdom: “For righteousness is immortal. God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of His own eternity”(Wis 1:15, 2:23).  This means that our God-given life-goal is to know, to love and to serve God here, and to share God’s Life in bliss forever in Heaven.

SECOND READING

Second Reading – 2 Cor 8:7,9,13-15

Paul addresses the Christians in Corinth, rich in the spiritual gifts (prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, etc. See chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians). Complimenting them on their material and spiritual prosperity, Saint Paul now asks them to come to the financial aid of a destitute Christian congregation in Jerusalem. Paul has already sent the suffering people alms from Macedonia and Galatia; now, he asks the Corinthian Gentile converts to show their solidarity and union with their Jewish brethren by practicing the virtue of charity as the Macedonians have done.

Paul’s first concern is with the welfare of those whom the Church has taken as its responsibility. He also appeals to the Self-emptying example of Jesus, indescribably rich as Son of God, in assuming human life and accepting death, for our sake.  The love St. Paul has for the Corinthians is this self-gift’s own reward.

GOSPEL READING

Gospel Reading – Mark 5:21-43

The Context

In today’s Gospel we have what is often called a “Markan sandwich”. One story is encased or sandwiched between the beginning and end of another. Here, we have an unusual combination of two miracle stories, one contained within the other – a healing, and a restoration of life. The story of the woman with the flow of blood interrupts, and is sandwiched between the two parts of the account of Jairus’ plea for his dying daughter and its result. These miracles were worked by Jesus as rewards for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Though the ruler may have trusted Jesus out of desperation, and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, even their perhaps defective Faith was amply rewarded.


The Parallels

The stories have several common features. One woman is 12 years old, and the other has suffered for 12 years. Both are called “daughter,” and both are in need of physical healing. The girl’s father is encouraged to have Faith, and the older woman is praised for her Faith. The two stories illustrate Jesus’ power over both chronic illness and death. In each healing, Jesus shows God’s marvelous generosity by giving the recipients life and salvation in addition to physical healing.

The faith-experiences of Jairus and the sick woman:

1) Jairus: As the ruler of the synagogue, Jairus was a well-respected man in the local Jewish community. He was the administrative head of the synagogue, the president of the board of elders and the one responsible for the conduct of the services. He probably shared in the Pharisees’ prejudice that Jesus was a heretic and a wandering preacher to be avoided. If so, the urgency of his need and the helplessness of the situation prompted him to forget his position, to swallow his pride and prejudice and to seek help from Jesus the wandering wonderworker.

2) The woman with a hemorrhage: The account tells of a woman who came to Jesus with expectant Faith as a last resort, after trying every other cure known in her day. The Mosaic Law (Lv 15:25-27) declared her unclean and shut her off from the worship of God and the fellowship of her friends. That may be why she decided to try to touch the tassels of Jesus’ garment secretly. Jesus, like every other Jew, wore an outer robe with four tassels on it, one at each corner–the badge of a devout Jew as prescribed (Nm 15:38-40).


The Faith that was rewarded

The woman’s boldness in touching Jesus’ garment — which, according to the Law, made Jesus unclean — could have angered the Master. Further, because her “chronic bleeding disease” rendered her ritually unclean, any contact she had with others in the crowd, made them also ritually unclean as well. But her Faith in the healing power of Jesus was so strong that she risked breaking all the social rules to seek what she believed He could do for her. By affectionately calling her “daughter,” Jesus established a relationship with her and gave her the assurance that she was healed:   “Daughter, your Faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” In addition, she gained a personal relationship with Jesus as a member of Jesus’ family (3:35).  By trusting in the power of God and doing His will, she was not only physically cured but was also fully restored to a normal religious and social life. It was her Jesus’ garment – that was a major factor in her healing.


The Faith that brought back life from death

As Jesus sent the woman to her house, Jairus received the shocking news of the death of his daughter. But Jesus insisted on going to Jairus’ house and consoled the father saying, “Do not be afraid; only have Faith.” The phrase, “Do not be afraid,” appears in the Bible 366 times [Source: http://www.believersportal.com/list-365-fear-not-bible-verses/%5D Those who greeted Jairus at his home were professional mourners who wailed, beat their breasts, tore their hair, and rent their garments.  There were also flute players who played funeral dirges.  The crowd told Jairus: “Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the teacher any further?” (35). But Jesus assured the crowd: “The child is not dead but sleeping,” meaning that the girl’s death was only temporary, and she would wake up at his call. Jesus took the parents of the little girl with only Peter, James, and John into the room, took the child by the hand and said to her, “‘Talitha koum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’” Those who had laughed Jesus to scorn must have been greatly amazed when they realized Jesus’ power.


Ministry of Presence

Jesus’ “ministry of presence,” was what drew people as a magnet draws iron filings. When Jairus approached Jesus in today’s Gospel (Mk 5:21-43) about his dying daughter, Jesus immediately became present to him and left with him to visit the child. On the way, someone hemorrhaging was healed simply by reaching out to touch Jesus cloak tassel with Faith. Arriving at Jairus’ house, Jesus was present to the apparently dead child and to her parents. In all cases, Jesus brought new life into dark situations. What we are, and what they are receiving, is the very compassion of Jesus. It is that compassion that urges us to visit those who need consoling. And our compassion finds its release in being present to others in their time of need, just as Jesus was. Consoling and comforting are spiritual works of mercy and visiting the sick and dying is a corporal work of mercy. This “mystery of mercy” is supremely revealed in the life of Jesus, and, as Pope John Paul II taught us, it is our constant mission to proclaim and introduce that mercy into our daily life (Dives in Misericordia, 1980; #14). Just being present to those in need is healing! Coming to the aid of our neighbor in a time of need, both spiritual and physical, is a charitable action or “work of mercy” (CCC #2447). When we serve those who are hurting, we serve Christ who identifies with them (CCC #544).

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