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Jesus crossed seas & streets to lead us to the side of life, again & again…

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 30 June 2024
Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24 ><}}}}*> 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 ><}}}}*> Mark 5:21-43
August 20, 2021 frontpage photo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer at the height of COVID-19 pandemic.

Ayoung brother-priest recently interviewed me about my ministry as chaplain in a university and a hospital, inquiring about its similarities and differences with a parish assignment, difficulties and challenges. I told him first, it is the priesthood, an answer to the call of Jesus Christ to serve. How? By reminding the people I serve that we are still humans – that it is good and normal to fail and get disappointed, to get sick and be not well in life.

As a chaplain, my ministry involves the hospitality of Jesus Christ like in our gospel today, that is, to welcome everyone especially those who are sick and troubled to experience God’s love and mercy, healing and salvation. It is a ministry of accompanying, of journeying with those who have to “cross” so often the turbulent sea of life, of opening their eyes and hearts to faith in God.

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, nd a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him (Mark 5:21-24).

Photo by author, Lake of Galilee, Israel, May 2019.

Ilove that little detail Mark mentioned in today’s gospel, of how Jesus “had crossed again” the Lake of Galilee. That’s what Jesus had done when He crossed from heaven to earth to lead us cross from here to eternity. And Jesus keeps on crossing the sea and the streets with us to get to the side of life with its fullness in heaven.

In this long gospel, we see how Jesus crossed again and again for the worried father, the sickly widow along the way, and the dead daughter. Here we find Jesus welcoming us, our humanity with all its weaknesses and imperfections. That first act of Jesus of coming with Jairus to his home in itself was the start of the healing process. That is the hospitality of Jesus.

From the Latin word hospis which means to welcome, it is the origin of the English terms hospitality and hospital. Both terms are so trending today as the most in demand careers are those in the hospitality business of hotels and travels and in the hospital care system following the pandemic.

Medical professionals during the time of Jesus were very rare that most people have no other recourse but to muster all their faith for healing and well-being. Sickness and death were so negative for them, seen at its worst as a punishment from God for sins committed. That context makes our gospel scene this Sunday so uplifting because Mark shows us Jesus came to bring healing and life to us humans who are frail and weak, even dead to sin!

We know this story of double healing by Jesus, of the hemorrhaging woman who touched His clothes that right away stopped her bleeding and of Jairus’ daughter raised from the dead after taking her hand, telling her to arise, “Talitha koum”.

In both instances, we first experience Christ’s hospitality, of how Jesus right away made those afflicted welcomed. Blessed are those with family and friends, even total strangers hospitable enough to encourage the sock and troubled among us to hold on to their faith when life’s too difficult and rough, to keep on hoping for the best and to believe in love when all is dark. The sad truth is, many were lost not really in their battles with diseases and trials but with no one on their side to support and encourage them during their trying moments.

Today, Jesus is inviting us to keep on crossing the seas and streets of life, to bring Him with those finding difficult or terrifying to cross to the side of life of grace, of acceptance, and of forgiveness as the world has become so perfectionist and unrealistic.

Of course, the woman and the daughter as well as all the others healed and brought back to life by Jesus eventually died later in life; our whole life is an unceasing struggle against the relentless assaults of diseases and death that have become more violent and insidious. Surely, we shall all die one day.

What makes the difference is the faith we have in Jesus who had come to bring salvation, healing and life to the world, more than our physical well-being. See how in every healing Jesus would engage us first into a personal encounter with Him with His eyes full of mercy and tenderness, touching and raising up those sick and dead before saying the words “arise” or “be opened” finished off with the most unique of all, “your faith has saved you”.

Photo by author, 2023.

Only faith will enable us to understand these cures and resurrections worked by Jesus. It was the same thing He had asked us with the disciples during the storm in the middle of the sea (or lake).

Let us have that welcoming spirit or hospitality of Jesus with others too! We may not have His actual powers of healing but we can be the extensions of Him by first being hospitable, welcoming those in distress especially. Since Friday, I have felt the Lord telling me to speak more about encouragement. In telling us these story of Jesus bringing back to life the daughter of Jairus sandwiched with the healing of the hemorrhaging woman along the way, Mark was encouraging the persecuted Christians of his time and us today to be hospitable with one another going through many trials in life. People actually come to us not really for help nor solutions to their problems but simply to be welcomed and encouraged in what they were going through.

The first reading clearly tells us that death and sickness were not from God but from the devil. Only good things come from God – including us! Though sin had thwarted the beautiful plan of God in the beginning, right away after the fall He promised salvation in Christ who became poor to make us rich in life with love and mercy in Him.

your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: “Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less” (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).

Photo by author, Anvaya in Morong, Bataan 17 June 2024.

St. Paul was in prison, thanking the Corinthians for their hospitality and generosity in providing for his needs. He was reminding them and us too that every hospitality and generosity we do must be rooted in Christ.

We in the church are always accused of so many collections, and rightly so. These collections get to their nerves not because of the money they have to give but the sheer lack of Jesus! They could hardly feel nor find Jesus as the reason and essence not only for their generosity but most especially in the Mass celebration. How sad when priests are demanding of the people’s generosity when they lack the hospitality of Jesus. People are most generous, both the rich and the poor alike, when their pastor are hospitable like Christ, when they feel the parish as a community with Jesus always leading them to cross every street, every sea of trials and challenges.

Last Sunday, the gospel reminded us how Jesus silently journeys with us even in turbulent seas, asking us to have faith and trust in His powers. This Sunday, the gospel reminds us that we become the presence of Christ in helping people cross the seas and the streets of sickness even of death. Can we? Let us pray:

Lord Jesus,
teach us to have 
your courage to believe and trust
You in crossing stormy seas;
teach us too to be warm and
hospitable with the many people
we meet while crossing busy
streets, those who are sick
and "dead" to life and living;
let us be your silent presence,
encouraging, consoling, uplifting
those with sagging spirits
to experience your healing and life
in our loving service in You.
Amen.
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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

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