YEAR B: FR. MIKE’S HOMILY FOR THE 13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: The Gift of Faith
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
HOMILY: Mark 5:21-43
The Gospel this Sunday gives us the story about two miracles done by Jesus: the healing of a woman who was hemorrhaging for twelve years, and the raising back to life of a twelve-year old girl, the daughter of Jairus.
There are two things we need to mention. First is the detail on the number twelve. This number represents the twelve tribes of Israel as well as the twelve apostles, the foundation of the Church that Christ established. In other words, these miracles done to these individuals were symbolic of God’s saving work begun in the Old Covenant and continues to be fulfilled in the Church through Jesus. The second is the preeminent role of faith in the miraculous events. The woman touched the garment of Jesus, uttering to herself: “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” And in the second instance, Jesus made sure Jairus had faith in him: “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.”
It is faith that moves the hand of God to do wondrous deeds. It is not the other way around. Some people think that for them to have faith, they need to witness a miracle. “To see is to believe”, they say. That is not right. As the Gospels clearly illustrate, one must have faith first, and this faith will produce miracles: “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.’ Nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17:20).
In our relationship with God, there are three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. St. Paul said that these are the three things that last. And the greatest among them is love (1Cor 13:13). St. Thomas Aquinas, however, added some qualification to that statement. He said that in the order of dignity, it is true that love is the greatest. But how can we love God when we do not know Him? There is a philosophical principle in Latin: “Nil volitum, nisi praecognitum.” Nothing is desired unless it is known beforehand. It is faith that helps us to know God. And we can love God only if we know Him. So, in the order of knowledge, faith comes first. Losing our faith, therefore, means to lose our means to know God, making it impossible to love Him.
Nowadays, we see various systematic and concerted efforts from secular society to erase God from the lives of the people. To do that, they must discredit and eventually destroy the Catholic Church. Secular governments all over the world are becoming more and more aggressive in their attempts to put God away from public life and curtail religious freedom. It is a blatant and deliberate attempt to take away the Christian faith from us.
This is truly alarming. We must remind ourselves that faith is a gift from God, and it could be totally lost. Losing our faith is very disastrous to our soul. Hence, we should be very vigilant, and constantly safeguard our faith.
Let us, therefore, examine ourselves. Every Sunday at Mass we recite the Creed. It contains all the most important and fundamental truths of our faith revealed to us by God. It is truly important to know and study the doctrines of our faith as taught to us by the Church since the beginning. Knowing them, we must also adhere and hold on to them with firm belief and conviction.
And secondly, trusting more in oneself, in other persons and things rather than in God is definitely wrong. Trusting in our own intelligence and powers, or relying solely on money or in other persons, totally disregarding God’s providence, are sins against faith. We must trust in God over and above everything in this world.
We are truly blessed and fortunate that, despite our unworthiness, God granted us the gift of faith. We are duty bound to protect and defend it, and to make sure it is nurtured through study and prayer. And most importantly, God expects us to share our faith with others. The more we share it, the stronger it becomes. In fact, these times call for a “new evangelization.”
Pope Benedict XVI explained that “the term ‘new evangelization’ recalls the need of a new way of evangelizing… in order to convince modern persons, who are often distracted and insensitive. That is why the new evangelization must find ways to make the proclamation of salvation more effective, the salvation without which life is contradictory and lacking in what is essential.” (Address to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, May 30, 2011).
As followers of Christ, it is our duty and our mission to share and spread our faith and thereby fulfill his command: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches