LITURGY AND LIFE
By Tom Saretsky
God is the judge who will always be on our side
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1: 13-15; 2: 23-24
As much as we want to complicate God with the facts of
any given situation, God isn’t concerned with the facts. God is a God who says, “You
are my child, and despite what you do or what you have done, you are
still my child. I’m not interested in all the wrongs you’ve
done in life, the mistakes you made, the failures you experienced or
the sins you’ve committed. You are my child!” We as a society
seem to be more concerned with the sins we commit and wrongs we do — as
well as the wrongs others do — as opposed to the good we do.
How many times do we condemn ourselves with the facts,
committed this sin or that sin, did this or didn’t do that, making
it appear that our human existence is based on the wrongs we’ve
done. Perhaps this is the “devil’s envy that brought death
into the world,” as the Book of Wisdom states. By concentrating
on this, we remain in a state of death: “God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living.” God is not
complicated by the wrongs we do. God is a God of life who understands
that we are in need of a Saviour to liberate us from what we continually
declare as our fault, our most grievous fault.
In the Gospel for this 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we
are given a glimpse of the liberating actions of the Saviour. A woman
who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for more than 12 years seeks
the healing powers of Jesus. She follows him through the crowd and declares, “If I but
touch his clothes, I will be made well.” The woman grasps Jesus’ cloak
and immediately is healed. Jesus, sensing power has been released from
him, turns and looks around, searching for the person who touched him.
This action in itself signifies that God looks for us. God pursues us
even though the crowd is pressing in. God will never give up on us.
As parents, are you concerned about your children stumbling
as they learn to walk? Would you ever give up on them if they did? Or
do you continue to beckon them forward? When children are yelling, “Mommy and Daddy,” as
they stumble forward, the prize for all parents is being able to wrap
them up in our arms. That doesn’t change when they become teenagers
or when they become adults. Their struggles and their stumbles at these
ages are much bigger, and take on a completely different complexion.
But their struggles don’t make us love them any less. They are
still learning to walk through life, and we will still look for them
and search them out as the “crowd” of peer pressures, lifestyles,
choices, and even their sinfulness press in on us.
Unfortunately, our society isn’t overly forgiving. Things get complicated
by focusing on the name of the sin, the regularity of the sin, the level
of sin, the type of sin and then the strict penance or punishment that
can follow. When the bleeding woman falls at Jesus’ feet and tells
him the whole story, Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has
made you well: go in peace and be healed of your disease.” And
later when he finds Jairus’ daughter in bed, he says to her, “Talitha
kum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.”
Jesus is issuing these words to all of us. He invites us to get up. Jesus’ words are words of healing, because Jesus is not complicated. He does not punish or judge us for the wrongs we do. His words are words of invitation, welcoming, mercy, gentleness, forgiveness and healing. Our sins, our struggles and our stumbles will never be barriers to the kingdom. In fact, they are the keys to the kingdom that God will use to “turn our mourning into dancing.”
Saretsky and his wife Norma have two children, Nathan and Jenna. He
is a teacher and chaplain at Bishop James Mahoney high school in Saskatoon.