Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Daniel Maria Piras is a Franciscan living in Italy.  And he once had an experience very similar to the hemorrhagic woman of today’s Gospel.  Daniel, in 1983, was born into a very dysfunctional family.  There were financial issues and a lot of anger and abuse between his mom and dad.  He said that when he was in Middle School to, “Dull the pain I was carrying in my heart,” he turned to alcohol and drugs.  By the time he was 16 he was hopelessly addicted.  He couldn’t stop.  For the next 7 years he said, “I could not escape that bondage.”  “I was weak, it was a vicious cycle.” 

Daniel tried methadone to help ease the addiction but it just didn’t seem to work.  It was during this time of addiction that Daniel’s mom has a conversion experience.  She came back to the Catholic Faith.  And family life started to improve.  Her decision to love again; made a difference in every single family member’s life.  Through her example Daniel began to call on Jesus for help.  When Daniel was 23 his mom invited him to a “Renewal in the Spirit” conference.  The theme of that conference was based on Psalm 107, God’s power to heal, specifically this line from the Psalm, “He brought them out of darkness and gloom and broke their bonds asunder.”  The Franciscan priest leading the conference made a strong impression on Daniel and so after one of the talks Daniel went to the priest to ask him for a blessing. 

Daniel got his blessing, and the priest told him, “Ask Jesus to intervene.”  By the time Daniel got back to his seat a period of prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament had begun.  Daniel said that at that moment he has a great desire to go and touch Jesus, to go and touch the Eucharist.  And so, he did.  No one stopped him as he approached the altar.  He looked around but no one came to tell him to go back to his seat.  So, there in front of the altar he knelt and then he reached up and touched the monstrance.  He then went quickly back to his seat.  No one said anything to him.  He got away with it!

As Daniel was making his way back to his seat a passage from the prophet Daniel was being read, this is what he heard, “He is the living God, enduring forever; His kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.  He delivers and rescues, He works signs and wonders in Heaven and on Earth!”  And there sitting in his pew Daniel began to experience something, something physical, he got really hot, and he began to sweat profusely, and his whole body shook as he sobbed and cried.  Daniel’s mom seeing this said to him, “I think God has healed you.”  The next morning there were no more withdrawal symptoms as there had been every morning for the past year.  No need for methadone.  He was healed.  Two years later Daniel entered the Friars Minor, a branch of the Franciscans.  So even though our Lord has ascended He still heals when we reach out to touch Him. 

In the Gospel today Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, only have faith.”  He says these same words to us today, “Do not be afraid, only have faith.”  God gains entrance into our hearts through faith.   He knows that life in this fallen world can be a pilgrimage through fears, but with our Lord we can conquer them all. 

He is telling us:

· Do not be afraid of what other people will think of you: follow the way I teach you.

· Do not be afraid of failure: following God’s will is the only path to everlasting success;

Do not be afraid of changing your personal plans in order to follow God more closely: his plans are even better…

· If fear, confusion, or lack of trust in Christ still has too much power over us, it is because our faith is still immature.  We need to make it grow; and we can make it grow, simply by exercising it.  And the easiest way to exercise it is by developing more our life of prayer.

· Spending time alone with God each day (has to be every day), speaking to him, listening to him by reading and reflecting on the sacred scriptures, and then talking with him in the quiet of our hearts throughout the day’s activities.

Every time we pray sincerely, especially in front of the Eucharist, we exercise our faith, and exercising it makes it grow, like a muscle.

And the more our faith grows, the weaker our fears become.

After being touched by the hemorrhagic woman Jesus feels his power leave.  There is an older translation of this Gospel passage that uses the word “virtue” instead of power so that it reads like this instead, “Jesus, aware at once that virtue had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘who has touched my clothes?’”  With great faith in touching our Lord, the hemorrhagic woman was healed and filled with virtue.  Some will say that when we sit in prayer before the Eucharist, we are like the hemorrhagic woman draining our Lord of power and virtue.  And He can never be depleted.  To sit before the Eucharist in prayer we fill our soul with His power, with his virtue, we strengthen our faith, and we find healing. 

 Pope Benedict once said, “Prayer is a reality: God listens to us and, when we pray, God enters into our lives, he becomes present among us, works among us. Praying is a very important thing that can change the world, because it makes the power of God present.”

Let us be great Saints,

Fr. Christopher J. Ankley