13th Sunday, Ordinary - Homily
A St Andrew parishioner has asked me to post my Sunday homilies. I don't write them out, so I'll make my best effort to remember what I said!
We don't hear the story of the woman with the hemorrhage very often in the cycle of Lectionary readings at Mass. It is a powerful story. This woman suffered for twelve years from hemorrhaging (bleeding) and went to many doctors. None of them could heal her. Then, she just touched the garment of Jesus, and immediately, the bleeding stopped. She was healed.
We use this story many times on retreats, especially with youth. What we do is bring Jesus out of the tabernacle and onto the altar in the monstrance. Then the priest puts on this garment called a humeral veil. Now, our parents and the older generation grew up on Benediction, where the priest gives the Benediction with the monstrance while wearing the veil. The understanding is that with the garment over his hands, the priest is taken out of the equation. It is really Jesus (in the Eucharist) who is giving the blessing.
So, what we do is have the priest bring the monstrance from the altar to where the youth are. He processes to where the kids are, and walks slowly around them. Holding the monstrance with the veil, again it is that he is taken out of the equation. It is really Jesus walking through the crowd of youth just as walked through the crowd in the Gospel. Using this Gospel story as the backdrop, the kids reach out and touch the garment of Jesus. Now, these kids are dealing with so much in their lives…I've seen it time and again where they experience real healing by touching the garment of Christ. It is very powerful.
We all are dealing with a lot. We all have wounds like the woman with the hemorrhage. Our wounds may go back twelve years, maybe longer. Our wounds may be sins…habits…vices…maybe problems with family or friends…maybe hatred…anger… rejection…loneliness…tragedy…illness. Whatever our wounds are, we can be healed… by Christ.
Are we like the woman with the hemorrhage, and have gone to many doctors to be healed. Do we go to counselors or therapists with our wounds? None of them has the power to heal us like Christ has. He is the Divine Physician who can heal our souls… mainly through the Eucharist and Confession. And, he has given his power of healing to his priests. I know possess his power to heal. One therapist told me and a group of priests, "we don't have the tools and power that you guys have."
But, why is it that we all have wounds? Why do we all suffer? Where did suffering come from? Did God make suffering? No. From our first reading, Wisdom Chapter 1, "God did not make death" (v. 13). God did not make suffering. "Death entered the world through the envy of the devil" (Wis 2:23), through sin. Suffering, then, is a natural result of sin. That means that all of my wounds are caused by own sins or the sins of others.
Now, what if my wound is cancer, or depression? It doesn't seem fair because I've done nothing wrong. Well, we look at the Cross, and see the ultimate Innocent Victim. He did nothing wrong, and suffered tremendous wounds for us. St. Peter writes in his first letter, chapter 2, "by his wounds you are healed" (v.24). Christ took on all of our wounds so that we might be healed. He knows the pain of all of our wounds, and can heal them.
So, we come to this Eucharist today to be healed. It is the same Christ that will be present on the altar and in Holy Communion who healed the woman with the hemorrhage. It is the same Jesus, the same healing power. If we come to Him with the same faith as her, hopefully He will say the same words to our hearts: "your faith has saved you" (Mk 5:34). Your faith has healed you. May we all be open to the healing power of Christ this week. He has such a great desire to heal each one of us. He has such great love for each of us. A deep, passionate love. May you know His great love for you this week.