TUESDAY HOMILY: Reaching Out to Touch Jesus with Faith
to touch the hem of Jesus' clothes, but receive his whole body, blood, soul and divinity within. We receive the same Jesus whose feet Jairus grasped!
For many Catholics, however, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion has unfortunately, tragically, become routine. Some of us, including priests, can fail to approach Jesus with the awe, reverence, humility and thanksgiving that should characterize any of us when we recognize we're about to touch God.
Some don't even approach with faith, thinking rather that the Eucharist is just some type of special bread rather than the eternal Son of God. It's no wonder that they can begin to take the Eucharist for granted, to begin to treat Sunday Mass as less important than sleep, or sports, or work, or even cartoons, because even though in the past they've touched Jesus in Holy Communion, they touched him like so many in the crowd bumped into him, rather than with the faith and trust, reverence and gratitude, that we see in Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage.
Today, whether we can get to Mass to touch Jesus or whether we need to reach out to him in prayer and in spiritual communion , let us beg his help so that we may touch him with true faith, to touch him with the same desperation, the same recognition of our need for him, as we see in Jairus and the woman.
At the same time that we reach out to touch Jesus, we have to recognize that Jesus wants to reach out and touch us, too. He's not just passive, waiting for us to establish contact, but he is very active, extending himself with love to us. Like he did with Jairus' little girl, so he wants to lay his hands on us.
He does it through the priest on the day we're baptized. He does it in silence in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. He does it routinely through the raised hands of a priest giving God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, whereby he who is the resurrection and the life wants us to share in his resurrection and life, so that he may be able to say of us with joy what was said by the Father of the Prodigal Son, "My Son, my daughter, was dead, but has come to life again."
Every reconciliation is meant to be a resurrection. That's the power of Jesus' touch in that great sacrament he instituted on Easter Sunday evening. What Jesus does in the Sacrament of Confession, St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, used to say, is greater than the raising of Lazarus, or the son of the widow of Nain, or the daughter of Jairus, from the dead, because the healing of the soul in the Sacrament of Confession has eternal consequences.
The question for us is whether we allow Jesus to lay his hands on us in this way to heal in us whatever is dead, whatever has been killed by the fatal spiritual blow of mortal sin. The question is whether we try to imitate Jairus' love for his daughter by bringing those we love to receive that same healing, reconciling touch. Today's Gospel reading inspires us to try to do both.
Today tells us what he told Jairus: "Do not fear, just believe." He wants us to reach out to him who is reaching out for us.
That's what the "great cloud of witnesses," the saints, about whom we read in today's first reading did in their life. And that's what they are praying for us to do now.
Father Roger Landry is pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, MA and national chaplain of Catholic Voices USA. His homilies and articles are found on catholicpreaching.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: year of faith, Fr. Roger J. Landry, daily homily, Jesus, gospels, Jairus
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