Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Do Not Be Afraid; Just Have Faith"

This weekend, my parish here in NYC -- the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Manhattan's West Side -- has been celebrating the final days of the Catholic Church's "Special Jubilee Year to the Apostle Paul."

Friday evening, the celebration at St. Paul's included a reading of the entire text of Saint Paul's Letters to the Colossians. Saturday (really Sunday) at midnight, the parish began an all-night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Along with other young adults, fellow parishioners and guests, I attended the adoration from midnight to 2 a.m. Fr. Stan Fortuna, C.F.R., led us during those hours with song and reflections.

Today, St. Paul's is having special Masses at 11 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. -- both to be followed by parish socials. I'm assuming that the Gospel readings proclaimed at these Masses may be the passage designated for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (which falls on Monday).

Most Catholics, however, will hear proclaimed this Sunday at Mass a very powerful Gospel passage in which two Jewish women are healed through the power of Christ. It's such an important passage I did not want to miss the opportunity to post it here.

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.

One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live."

He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."

Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"

But his disciples said to Jesus, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"

And he looked around to see who had done it.

The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.

He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith."

He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.

So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep."

And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.

He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.

He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"

The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded.

He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Fran has an excellent reflection on this passage at the Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor.

The image above depicts St. Paul prior to his beheading by sword. It is a detail of "The Martyrdom of St. Paul" by the American impressionist Robert Reid (1862-1929). The painting is on the wall at southwest end of the nave of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in NYC. St. Paul's is the mother church of the Paulist Fathers.

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