After writing in last week’s “Sing Praise” article about my worry for s “new” normal and better choices, today’s readings (this Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time) fill me with hope for us fallible humans. Starting backward in our Scripture with the Gospel, we hear the stories of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter and the inadvertent healing of the woman who touches Jesus’ clothes on the way to Jairus’ home. When Jesus arrives late to Jairus’ house, all there believe that the girl is already dead—and that He was too late to save her. He tells them: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jesus reminds us that fear is useless and that what is needed is the faith to trust. These are words for all of us in any of life’s difficult—and sometimes terrible—circumstances!
Jesus says to the sick girl in today’s Gospel: “Talitha koum!” This means: “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” We have the faith to know that Jesus will address these words to each of us, eventually, and we will arise to ever-lasting life. This is the hope for all of us who believe!
St. Paul exhorts us today to be our better, most generous selves. He reminds us to “excel in every respect” in all the ways we must be in this world. His vision for us believers is one of sharing and love; instruments of grace for God. In this time of so much selfishness, division, blame and fear, we have the words of St. Paul to remind us of our lives in Christ; a difficult challenge in the midst of any chaos. But Jesus’ words remind us, too: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” …
Today the Book of Wisdom teaches us that life, like all created things, is “wholesome.” “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” We know, though, that somehow that beautiful divine wholesomeness gets corrupted and that sin comes into our world and as a result illness and death surround us. Yet we are not left adrift and alone. We have the teachings of St. Paul and the Words of Jesus for comfort, solace and guidance. Because we believe that Jesus takes us by the hand like Jairus’s daughter: He delivers us and makes us whole. “The images of healing in today’s Gospel remind us of the power of God’s love to restore us to life when sickness and death surround us.” (Pastoral Patterns)
We gather each week and we are strengthened by what we receive in every liturgy: the Word of God and the Eucharist and our communion with the faithful—the Body of Christ. If we trust in God and have faith, our liturgical prayer as the Body of Christ will sustain us through all illness, trial, sorrow and loss—our own personal crosses and storms. That is the point of what we do each time we gather; the point of why we (should) gather—our liturgy itself is the institutionalizing of Jesus’ own healing ministry.
How to have a faith that leads to trust? Faith is not a matter of gritting your teeth and holding on for dear life—it is about trusting the Lord enough to be honest about our doubt and let go. It’s about having faith enough in the character of God to ask questions and trust God enough to know you are loved anyway. This trust in God is bound up in our faith: we trust in God’s mercy and compassion, and this is what makes us faithful—and maybe (sometimes) fearless in the face of trial. Do not be afraid of being the complete Christian we are called to be: we are not alone and we choose to be as Jesus would be in all things. We are called to let go of our fears and just have faith.
Today our response to the Psalm is a phrase to always remember: “I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.” Believe what you sing and sing what you believe—choose faith and trust, not fear. Trust and be healed! “Talitha koum!”
Just a Note: Here are a couple of songs about trust in God.
Today (the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time) St. Paul reminds us of the sacrifice Christ made for us—and how “the old things have passed away; new things have come.” We are compelled by the love that Jesus has for us to understand that we have been made new by Him and that no one (should) live in the flesh, but live for others. In some other words of St. Paul we know that our bodies are temporary dwellings and we will have new ones in the after.
Thinking about what’s old and new reminded me of the “new normal” everyone is craving after this last year and a half of fighting Covid. I have written about this topic early on in the pandemic, but since things are opening up, I thought I’d like to re-comment. Personally I think the “new normal” should be just that: new. Think about what has been brought to light by the pandemic: racial and social injustices in our political, medical, and judicial systems; school requirements, working and learning remotely, teacher and child care issues; problems in the supply chains; infrastructure issues (in the broad sense), to name a few. These are issues we all knew about—but the problems of the pandemic highlighted these challenges. But what good did we also see! We have seen a cleaner eco-system; the depth of kindness and compassion that humanity can have in the middle of a crisis; the appreciation of so much that went away from us due to Covid. Hidden gifts among our trials…
We have the opportunity in the midst of this mess to acknowledge our problems (the first step) and confront them; to appreciate and be grateful for what is important to us as humans and Christians. This is quite an amazing gift given in these challenging circumstances—but aren’t the best lessons we learn always the most difficult ones? Today in the Gospel Jesus gives a difficult lesson on faith to His Disciples: they are terrified instead of trusting and He demonstrates His power to solve anything. He quiets the seas and He saves them. They are awed at Jesus’ doing so, and I like to think this difficult and dangerous lesson of faith sticks with them. We do know it won’t—when you recall the denial and betrayal that comes later. Why can’t we learn the first time?
That is what worries me when I hear the talk of getting back to “normal.” I really want to believe that we can do so much better as a Community, a country and world. I want better than the old normal—like the salvation of Jesus gave us the “new” covenant of eternal life through His sacrifice. He is the example we are to follow. That would definitely mean some thoughtful and compassionate changes to systems and governments and businesses and bureaucracies, wouldn’t it? Our actions, choices, priorities would surely be affected, too. What would that look like and how to do this? I think it takes faith in action, faith in each other as we are all children of God, faith in co-creation with our Maker, faith in the Spirit we have all been given. Let’s do “new” as intended as we have the opportunity now to do so—not letting time pass and forgetting as we are wont to do. In the First Reading from Wisdom (Book of Job), Wisdom tells us that “justice is undying.” So should be our faith as Jesus reminds us today. Let’s do the “new” as Christ makes all things new.
Just a Note: The hymnals have returned! That is new and old—let’s make the most of what was missed. Please join in the sung prayer now that you may do so. I am looking forward to hearing the voice of the St. Aidan Assembly again!
More: Today we hear in the first reading how God set the sea and its’ boundaries. God is faithful with us. Here is a lovely song about faith and prayer by Chris Tomlin.
Considering the Person Jesus was—our Savior—it’s no wonder that I am so surprised by the many “common” things we know about Him because of the way He speaks, history and tradition. We know He was a carpenter and so He worked with His hands creating useful, simple (and I like to imagine, beautiful) things that people needed in their everyday lives. Because of this useful family trade, the family did “ok”—middle class for the time—and His people were more than likely respected for their contribution to the Community. So why am I surprised by Him when He uses everyday images and parables about every day things when He speaks? It’s a side of Him that I love; that He gets me because I, too, come from a middle class trade family, and His Words speak clearly to me. I may be surprised because I also know it is the Son of God, the Messiah, who speaks and acts and teaches through things that we can relate to in our daily lives.
Today in the Gospel of Mark for this Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus talks to the crowds about something they understand well: the sowing and growing and reaping of grain. He acknowledges that they don’t understand the actual science of this process—but they know what to do when, and what the result will be. He then compares the Kingdom of God to the smallest of seeds—the mustard seed—and talks of how it grows large enough to sustain and provide shade for all. Here is the Savior; speaking of planting and seeds and weeds and results.
I came later in life to gardening. Only after marrying twenty years ago and owning my first house did I learn of the joy of seeing the result of hard outside yard and garden work—something I had seen consistently in my life as a musician—hard work and results. The ground of any beautiful garden is watered by sweat—like the work and practice and dedication of a musician is one of “blood and sweat and (sometimes) tears.”
The house we bought had only one small 2 x 2 garden patch with a rose bush. My first garden was my “Mary-rock garden;” a smart first choice as the only living thing I had to plant was a bush framing Mary from behind. The rest of it is of rocks from all over (different vacations or experiences) that are placed carefully, with a near-by stone bench for prayer. Weeding was big for this garden, but I always enjoy the clean-ness of her space when I’m done. I love that statue as it was a gift from a parishioner whose wife had passed away and whose funeral I had played. He was moving out of state, and wanted a home for his wife’s Mary statue. He gifted Her to me, and so I wanted Mary in a special place.
Now I have gardens the whole length of one side of our backyard, all along the back of the house, behind the garage, out front with borders and many, many containers and boxes, too. It is a lot of work; but I am so cheered by the color and pleasure of pure life in front of me with which I get to play. Matisse (famous artist/painter) said gardening was painting world! So, what does all this have to do with Scripture today? We, ourselves, are the garden we need to grow and tend.
Think of it: we have our “ground” prepared by study and Sacrament; we sow the Word into our hearts and minds; we water our souls with the mass and Community, we nourish ourselves with the Eucharist for all the fruits of the Spirit. We weed away those things that may cause us to whither and die, and we thrive in the light of Christ. For me the analogy of caring for our souls works with the caring of a garden—and in the work of gardening one may hear the voice of God speaking and learn gratitude for God’s Creation and it’s beauty and wonder. Maybe more of us should garden at least a little bit; you never know when the Spirit will move you—and it’s a joy to be co-creators of something lovely—whether it’s a garden or our hearts and minds. How does your garden grow?
Just a Note: I found a few lovely sayings about gardens and gardening…
Moses in the Book of Exodus from the Old Testament today says: “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do. He then speaks of the covenant between God and His people and uses blood to “seal the deal.” This was a blood oath—and there was nothing stronger and more binding than that kind of promise. We have that same serious covenant with the shedding of Christ’s blood for us—the sacrifice He made to “cleanse our consciences from dead works.” Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant—and so we are saved (St. Paul to the Hebrews). The Psalm (#116) and the Gospel today makes me revisit Holy Thursday from the Triduum—the covenant response, and then the story of the Last Supper in which Jesus reminds us: “This is the blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” Then He shares the bread and wine, the Body and Blood, with His Disciples and with us. We celebrate this today—a remembrance; but also an act in this moment and at this time.
I looked up synonyms for “remembrance,” and here are some of them: commemoration, commendation, keepsake, memento, memorial, recollection, gift, monument, reminder, reproduction, reminiscence…all good words for us to hold in our hearts and minds as we receive Eucharist—along with remembering the sacrifice that brought us to the table. The idea of a “remembrance” made me think about other important moments we humans experience, or do, as a remembrance such as going to the cemetery to clean and adorn the graves of our loved ones; or eulogies at funerals. But not all remembrances center necessarily around death and we celebrate many other things in our lives and mark them in remembrance: births, wedding anniversaries, sacraments, to name a few.
Remembering and marking moments is something we do for many good reasons—as humans we need the reminders of the past in order to move forward in our lives—and we always hope to learn from our experiences of “before” as we look toward the future. Here is some John O’Donohue:
“May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.”
“See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.”
We are told today to “heed and do” what the Lord says—and to remember that it is vital to understand ourselves, and that our remembrance is necessary. We remember the sacrifice of Jesus and commemorate His actions every time we receive the Eucharist—but wouldn’t it be wonderful to live “In Remembrance of Him” in all the different moments of our daily lives? What could it be like, that in this remembering, we live in a spirit of awe and wonder? No matter where we are or what we are doing we can live in a state of remembrance and reverence toward God. Lord, let me know You in the washing of dishes, the cleaning of the house, gardening, tending, and mending and fixing. Let me know You in the notes in right order, in the words on any page, in those we meet daily and in all the faces of those near and far. Let me know and remember You in all things, Lord.
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Here are two songs of remembrance…
Break the Bread (Communion Song) - Worship Music
Our next opportunity to support AAAPRC is through the FLAPJACK RUN. The June 12th event will again be held at Hines Park, Nankin Mills Nature Center. Join the St. Aidan’s team on a 10K or 5K timed run, 1-Mile walk, or you can just donate by selecting Team Leader Laurie Ramsay via the “Donate” button. Oh, and besides a T-shirt there ARE flying flapjacks at the end of the race!
Click Here to Register/Donate
David J. Conrad, M.A. Theology. Our Director of Faith Formation.