Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13;
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43
Over the past year, I have cultivated a new practice. Each week, I try to spend dedicated time reflecting on the following Sunday’s readings. It’s a slow process, but I spend time with each passage during Lectio Divina, and then jot down some reflections. This practice has been a fruitful one, and I encourage others to do it too. I suspect that since I am heading back to seminary this fall, it will hold even more meaning for me, and my ministry as a future priest.
This week, however, I had a very difficult time. I’m not sure why, but nothing was coming to mind. All of that changed with the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, a ruling that will allow all 50 states to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I suspect that the following words may anger some, and perhaps even affect long-held friendships. I sincerely hope that is not the case, but as a Christian, I also must live and speak to what I know to be true. In any case, back to the ruling…
When news of the ruling broke, some people were jubilant, and others were upset, to say it lightly. There were people literally dancing for joy in the streets, and other people who were sad at the current state of affairs in our country. While my own views on the whole situation should be quite obvious, I would like to speak not about the new reality that faces us in our country (at least not with this post), but rather I would like to speak about the reactions of those associated with the ruling, especially those of my brothers and sisters in the Faith.
As I scrolled through Facebook yesterday, I must say that I was distressed. Some posts talked about how this would usher in the Second Coming (not a bad thing, but still alarmist), others insinuated that all of this would lead to another civil war. Still others said things against the opposing side that caused me to hang my head in embarrassment.
All of this is also true of the other side I might add, in regards to posting things that had no right being there – some of the things I saw posted from those who support the ruling were vicious, vindictive, and outright nasty. In other words, it seemed that some people on both sides should have taken a bit of time to think before pressing the “enter” button, but I’m not here to talk about that right now…
In any case, what I saw from my brothers and sisters in the Faith seemed to disregard what we learn in this Sunday’s Gospel. Here I saw posts written in dejection and despair, whereas in the Gospel reading, we find two individuals who respond to seemingly insurmountable circumstances in the way that we all should respond: with complete and unrelenting faith. In one moment, we see the sick woman, approaching Christ and daring to touch His cloak, hopeful for a healing from her hemorrhages. What happens? She is healed! Upon learning the truth, Christ even responds to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” Faith prevails.
Then in another moment, we see a synagogue official approaching the Messiah, despite admonishments from detractors, seeking His grace and healing touch. Christ reassures the official, telling him, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Our Lord proceeds to the official’s house, rebuking other detractors, and approaches the girl, grabbing her hand and raising her to new life. Faith prevails.
Here we have these profound examples of faith and hope in Christ, and yet there are some who were in despair over Friday’s ruling. It just doesn’t make sense.
It doesn’t make sense because we are called to something bigger and better. We are called to be a light in the wilderness, and to live a life of faith, not despairing at the state of affairs in the world. After all, we are called to be in the world, not of the world (cf. Romans 2:12). We are called to live a life of love and witness to the Gospel truth.
But today, what does this life look like? Well, I think we are partially in new territory, so we need to figure that out. But I think that it looks something like this (and in some ways I am speaking to both sides here): we approach all people in love, recognizing them for the children of God that they are, created in His image and likeness. We enter the conversation in a civil manner, seeking not to malign or bring down, but rather to have an open and honest discussion. What’s more, we must stand for Gospel truth. As a Church, we cannot water down the teachings of Christ, but we must also be respectful. We cannot give in to undue compromise, but we also cannot ignore the lived reality of all of those around us. In short, we are called to true and genuine love, the love of Christ, the love that heals all and reconciles all in Him. But this love does not mean ignoring truth; no, truth and love go together in tandem, and must be taken together.
We must be courageous in the proclamation of the Gospel, in both word AND deed. We must defend traditional marriage, voice our opinions, spread Truth, and work to bring authentic Christian values back into our society, but that also means we reach out to those who have different views, in hopes of a fruitful and loving dialogue. We must also pray for our country, our fellow man, and have faith that Christ, in His love, knows what He is about. After all, He is God.
In short, we are called to love, and Love always wins.