YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: MIRACLES AND FAITH
Gospel: Mk 5:21-23
Message # 295: “Be My Apostles”
1. The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother wants us all to become her apostles: “Be My Apostles.” An apostle is not just a disciple; he is not just a follower and listener. An apostle is the one being sent on a mission, particularly to spread the faith. As Christians, we are called to be apostles of Jesus for we are duty bound to share our faith. But the Blessed Mother also sends us on a threefold mission.
b) “Be my apostles, in living and spreading what I have told you, during these years” (letter f). The Blue Book and her messages in her many apparitions are to be taught to the people. These are all in consonance with the teachings of the Gospels and earnest admonitions and motherly pleas for prayers and conversion for the salvation of the world.
c) “Be my apostles, in spreading everywhere the one and only light of Christ” (letter g). The teachings of Christ in the Gospels, as well as the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church have to be taught to the people. These are the deposits of our faith which must be preserved faithfully and zealously spread throughout the whole world.
d) “Be my apostles, in spreading my light and in leading everyone into the refuge of my Immaculate Heart” (letter h). We have to tell everybody that the only refuge we have, especially against the dangers of masonry, communism and materialism, is the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The only way to fight against the attacks of the forces of darkness is by spreading the light of Mary. In this battle, she is the Queen of the Holy Rosary. In times of doubts, errors and dangers to our faith, she is the Mother of Faith. And during these times of troubles, she is the Queen of Peace.
2. Background Information
a) Miracle – the Dictionary defines it as “an event that appears to be contrary to or beyond the laws of nature and is regarded as an act of God.” Contrary to nature – as for example, a cat barks, or a man gets pregnant. Beyond or above nature – as for example it snows in summer (this is the story of Our Lady of Snows in Rome which is the historical background of the biggest and oldest Marian Shrine in the world, the Basilica of St. Mary Major) or the many events in the Bible such as those in Exodus and the numerous healings by Jesus and the apostles and prophets.
Purpose of Miracles – this is not a boastful display of God’s power. God is never boastful and proud. Rather, these are done because of God’s pity for those who need help, such as the miraculous healings and the food for the hungry (manna and multiplication of bread). And second, a miracle is meant to inspire people to believe in God and in His messengers such as the prophets and especially Jesus Christ. It is clear in the Gospels that Jesus used his miracles to prove that he comes from God and his teachings are divine and authentic. It is also along this line that a miracle or two are required for the beatification and canonization of saints. A miracle is the proof that the saint is indeed an authentic instrument of God and effective intercessor for others.
Miracle as distinguished from other Extraordinary Events – It is only God who can do miracles. Other extraordinary events, no matter how spectacular, if they are done apart from God, can never be considered miracles. Such is the case with magicians, or the works of the devil. That is why St. Paul urges us always to discern the spirits. We should not believe readily any extraordinary event – it might not come from God, and could be very dangerous to our soul. Not all healing preachers are coming from God. We need to examine the contents of the message they are preaching, and not just their healing powers or gifts.
Asking for a miracle so that we will believe in God is sinful. It is putting God to the test, and it is a violation of the first and second commandments: sins against faith. On the other hand, miracles are the result of our faith. This is the case in most of the miracles done by Jesus. We have first to believe, and the miracle will eventually take place. If we do not believe, nothing happens. That is why Jesus reprimanded his disciples time and again for their lack of faith.
For a person who is close to God, and who is attuned to God’s workings, every event that happens is a miracle, for they are all the handiwork of God. An ordinary daily event in the world, such as the rising of the sun, or the ceaseless beating of our heart, or the millions of activities of the human brain are miracles already. We can invent mega computers, but nobody can duplicate a human brain. The conception and birth of a child may be for us something ordinary, but it is actually a great miracle already. For a person of faith, everything is miraculous, for they are God’s handiwork among us. Actually, there are no coincidences. A coincidence is fittingly defined as “God’s miracle when He wants to remain anonymous.”
b) Faith – There are three theological virtues, that is, virtues which concern our relationship with God. These are faith, hope and love. According to St. Paul, the greatest of these is love. That is in the order of dignity. But in the order of knowledge, faith comes first. We cannot love God if we do not know Him. And the virtue of faith helps us know God, so that we can love Him more perfectly. The most famous definition of faith is found in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the assurance (realization) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen” (11:1).
Furthermore, it says: “By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible” (11:3).
Faith can be understood in two ways: as an article of faith and as an act of faith. The first is “the faith which is believed” (“fides quae creditur”) – faith in this sense means our assent to the truths revealed by God. Such is our faith in the truths contained in the Creed, in Sacred Scriptures and in Sacred Tradition. The second is “the faith by which it is believed” (“fides qui creditur”) – faith in this sense is our trust in God who reveals to us these truths. In this regard, Abraham is called a man of faith because of his unquestioning trust in God.
Sins against Faith – Losing faith will be disastrous to our souls. It is impossible to love God if we lose our faith for we have no way to know God. This is alarming because people do not mind losing it. They would rather lose it than lose money. It is easy for many people to turn away from the true faith just to win in an election or find a well-paying job in an Islamic country. The major sins against faith are apostasy (total rejection of the true faith); heresy (rejection of one or more elements of the true faith); superstitious beliefs; errors (belief in erroneous teachings); culpable ignorance of the faith (they are ignorant because they are lazy or they willfully do reject opportunities to learn the faith); belief in non-Christian practices such as witchcraft, astrology, palm reading, feng shui, and the like.
Faith is a gift from God. We do not deserve it but God granted us this gift. Since faith is a gift, it can be lost totally. There is a need to preserve, protect and nurture it. This can be done by diligent study of our faith (catechism, seminars, reading the Bible and teachings of the Church), constant prayers and faithful reception of the sacraments. And most importantly, faith grows and becomes stronger when we share it with others. That is why we are called to be missionaries – we have to spread the light of faith – in view of the fulfillment of the hidden plan of God mentioned by St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians: “In all wisdom and insight, (God) has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth” (1:9-10). The appointed time will come when “at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:10-11). When we share our faith, we hasten the fulfillment of God’s plan, and we also strengthen our own faith.
3. Points for Reflection
a) The Gospel narrates two miracles performed by Jesus: the healing of a hemorrhaging woman, and the raising back to life of the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue leader. The healing of the woman was without the knowledge of Jesus. But still the cure was made. On the other hand, Jairus was only asking for the healing of her daughter. He did not expect that she would die, and therefore, necessitated the greater miracle of raising her back to life. In both cases, it is very clear that faith has been the major precondition for the miracle.
The hemorrhaging woman was very firm in her faith: “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” And Jesus told her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” For his part, Jairus was also very convinced that Jesus could cure his daughter. But he was terribly shaken to hear the news that she has already died. The people in the house all have seen her die. That is why when Jesus said that she was only asleep, they laughed. Sensing the condition of Jairus, Jesus restored the strength of his faith by telling him: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
b) When we pray to God, and the favor we are asking for is not granted, there are three possible reasons: First, perhaps God has a better plan for us than what we are asking for. Second, it could be that what we are asking is not beneficial to us. And third, perhaps we lack enough faith. Just a little faith, “the size of a mustard seed”, can move mountains. Such faith can lead to great miracles, for nothing is impossible with God.
c) For those who do not believe, no miracle is enough. For those who truly believe, no miracle is necessary. This is because, for those who truly believe, everything is possible. A quotation says, “The most powerful man on earth is the one who bends his knees and prays.” d) Faith is true when it has undergone testing. Jairus has a strong faith in God, for, after all, he is the synagogue leader. But his daughter is about to die. So he asked help from Jesus. Then he heard the worst news: “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Suddenly, his faith was put to serious test. He began to waver, and he felt he was losing faith. Jesus noticed it and hastened to assure him: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” When problems and trials in life come, these are not meant to weaken and discourage us. Rather, these are opportunities for us to strengthen our faith and trust in God. Initially, they will shake our faith, like what happened to Jairus, not to destroy us, but to awaken our faith in a loving and merciful God. For those who have faith, nothing is impossible with God!
e) Bodily death is not the absolute evil. For those who have faith in Jesus, death is not the final end. And he assures us: “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (Jn 11:25-26). For Christians, death is only the passage to eternal life and dying is referred to as falling asleep. That is what Jesus said regarding the daughter of Jairus: “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” Instead, we must remember that real death is sin. It is the dreadful separation of man when he breaks away from God. During our life on earth, when we are in mortal sin, we are separated from God – temporarily, that is. But when we die without repentance and sacramental absolution in Confession, the separation becomes final and irreversible – and that is real and eternal death.
Recite the Creed with full attention and conviction.
QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Ano ang kinatatakutan mo: kamatayan, o kasalanan?
2. Ano ang iyong dapat gawin upang lumakas at lumalim ang iyong pananampalataya?
3. Ano ang masasabi mo tungkol sa mga dating Katoliko na ngayon ay sumama na sa ibang relihiyon o ibang sekta?