Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


"In Overcoming Their Fear, Jesus...Healed Them and Brought Them Peace"
Homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 1st, 2012
Year B

A writer from Michigan tells the true story that took place on a bay in the northern part of the state. The bay froze over every winter. One time, some hunters from a different state were tracking a deer near an arm of the river and saw the tracks ran across the ice. Not knowing how strong or thick it was, they got down on their hands and knees to crawl over. They thought this would distribute their weight more evenly, and there would be less chance of breaking through the ice. Imagine their embarrassment when, as they were reaching the halfway mark, they saw a man driving a truck that was pulling a tremendous load of logs, coming across the ice from the opposite direction. The driver of the truck was a resident of the town and knew that the winter ice on that bay was about three feet thick. The visitors didn't know that, and so they were afraid of falling through.

Fear can be paralyzing especially when it comes to faith, morality, and virtuous living. Very often we are well aware of what God asks of us in our lives. It is this knowledge that is supposed to draw us closer to Him because we know how we are to live in relation to Him and each other. Yet, this knowledge is also what hinders our progress in virtue because of fear. This type of fear, as described in the Book of Wisdom, is a type of death – a spiritual death that can lead to the permanent separation from God.

Both illustrations in our Gospel reading today teach us something about overcoming our fear and approaching the Lord in humility and faith. Jairus’ request is that his little girl get well – literally meaning: ‘be healed’ or ‘be saved’ – and live. These are verbs that are often used to describe salvation and eternal life. His request for physical healing, therefore, reflects a deeper desire for the deliverance from death – both physical and spiritual.

While Jairus pleads on behalf of his daughter, a woman approaches Jesus for her own sake. Her unfortunate disease has made her suffer not only its physical effects but also the social and spiritual effects of being viewed as unclean in the eyes of her peers. She is in a state of perpetual impurity as a result of her bleeding. She comes to Jesus in an act of desperation. Her words are the same as those of Jairus: “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured…” Literally meaning ‘healed’ or ‘saved.’ Thus her desire is the same as Jairus’ – for something much greater than physical healing – spiritual rebirth, healing within her soul, making her whole again.

Both Jairus and the woman take great risks. They are desperate for help and have no one else to whom to turn. On Jairus’ part, turning to Jesus risks his position in the synagogue. The woman takes the risk of making Jesus unclean by touching him. And yet, Jesus is moved by their faith, by their boldness and their courage in approaching Him. How could He say no to them? And what if, because of fear, these two people had not approached Our Lord? Both the daughter and the woman would have died in their affliction. But they were convinced that because, as the Book of Wisdom so beautifully notes, God “fashioned all things that they might have being…” and that He “formed man to be imperishable” in “the image of his own nature” that He would deliver them from their present plight. They were convinced that God, through His Son Jesus, could restore them, bring them healing in both body and soul.

What are we afraid of then? We know that God has prepared a place for us in heaven. We know that God can bring about good from evil and can take away our aversion to suffering. We know that in His love for us, God will never abandon us nor forsake us even when are ridiculed for being authentic in our Catholic faith. Why are we crawling across the ice when we could be walking tall in our faith?

Perhaps we become a little too comfortable with where we are in our spiritual lives and the fear is that we are not sure what will happen or we do not want to offend any one. Jesus challenges us today to walk tall in our confession of faith, to speak boldly on behalf of the truth – particularly in our country that is undergoing an attack on religious freedom. These two courageous people in our Gospel teach us that in overcoming their fear, Jesus came through for them – He made them well, He healed them, brought them peace, comfort, He restored them to His own likeness – the image of His own nature. He did not just bring them physical healing but spiritual as well. He shows us that we too have the ability to be whole – to truly become the men and women that He has created us to be – yet we have to overcome our fear of approaching Him, we have to be bold and courageous, convinced that God is on our side.

Let us therefore, not be afraid to let Him into our hearts – even in to those dark places where we truly need Him the most and be touched by His healing love. Let us approach the Lord in our prayer this day and everyday, asking for His help to be able to boldly live our faith. Our prayer should be that we, by His grace, overcome the fear turning away from Him and turn toward Him – for our own healing both in body and soul.


Fr. Jon Reardon


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.




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