13th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Fr. Paul Patrick, O.M.I.
Preached: June 27, 2021
Today’s reading from the 5th chapter of Mark’s Gospel presents us with a beautiful and touching scene. In this scene, a father goes out from his house to find Jesus. After finding Him, he asks for healing for his dying daughter. The Gospel account concludes with Jesus coming to the man’s home, healing his daughter and raising her to life.
This story is a textbook example of intercessory prayer – the father goes to Jesus to ask for healing not for himself but on behalf of his daughter. The word “intercession” comes from the Latin word intercessio and literally means to plead/ask on behalf of another.
- Intercessors in the Church
We have a long and rich history in the Church of both being intercessors on behalf of other people in the community and praying through the intercession of the saints and Mary.
For example, many Italians are familiar with praying through the intercession of St. Anthony when they misplace something. We sometimes mistakenly say “Pray to St. Anthony” which might give the impression that the given saint is the one working a little miracle when in fact, the saint is merely an intercessor like the father in today’s Gospel interceding before God on our behalf.
The same is true with the Blessed Virgin Mary – when we pray in this way, we really are asking Mary’s intercession before the Lord in the same way as the saints.
- Intercessory Prayer during the Liturgy
Oftentimes when we come for Mass you will hear the intention of the Mass being prayed for during the Prayers of the Faithful. Many times the person we offer the Mass for may be deceased or not present. This is another form of intercessory prayer which is fairly common in many parts of the world where someone offers the Mass for a loved one or a family member who is deceased or in need of prayers.
- Good intercessory prayer
Good intercessory prayer is two fold: It asks for God’s blessing on the one we ask for, and also moves us to develop our relationship and love for that person we pray for. In the Gospel account, we see how Jesus’ healing of the father’s daughter had lasting positive and physical impact on the family – the daughter lived.
In the same way, when we pray on behalf of others, it must go hand in hand with good works and physical affirmations of our faith – otherwise as St. James tells us “Faith without good works is dead” (James 2:14-26) Let us remind ourselves to pray for those we love as well as for those we do not love as we should, so that it may lead us to deepen our concrete love of neighbor.