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.
Second Sunday of Easter – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto
Date Preached: April 28, 2019
Like Thomas, we come to Mass each week so that we can touch Jesus and believe. The first appearance of the Risen Lord Jesus, Thomas is not there with the others and so misses Jesus and does not believe. The following week, Thomas is there with the others and so he touches Jesus and he believes. He makes that great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God.”
We come to Mass each week so that we can touch Jesus and believe. But, our faith calls us to act.
When the Risen Lord Jesus appears to the Apostles, he says to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” We come to Mass to touch Jesus and have faith. But, then we are sent out by Jesus into the world.
What are we sent to do?
During Easter we listen to the Acts of the Apostles which tells of the experiences of the first believers after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, we heard that people were laying the sick in the street hoping that Peter’s shadow might fall on them. The Christian community, the early Church, was an instrument of healing. It made the mercy and healing of Jesus visible and concrete.
Jesus sends us out to be instruments of healing, instruments of peace, to bring God’s mercy into our world.
This past Easter Sunday morning, we saw a terrible act of terrorism in Sri Lanka. Several suicide bombings, some in Catholic Churches, killing hundreds and injuring more. The images remind us of the division, the hatred, the brokenness within the world.
Even within our families we find divisions, jealousies, even hatred. It is clear that our world, our communities, our families, are in need of healing, in need of peace, in need of mercy.
This Second Sunday of Easter is now known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a reminder of the Mercy of God. Reminder of our need for God’s mercy. Reminder of the power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is essential, it is the power of God, forgiveness is necessary for there to be peace in our world, between religions, in the church, within families, in our own hearts.
Like Thomas, we come to this Mass each week to touch the Risen Lord Jesus and have our faith affirmed. Jesus then sends us out to be instruments of peace, instruments of healing, to bring God’s mercy into our world and into our families. Our world, our families, each of us, need healing, peace, mercy.
Each of us is called to be an instrument of peace, an instrument of God’s mercy. Even one act of forgiveness makes the world a better place. Have the courage to reject hatred, violence, division when our world offers you that path. Have the courage instead to embrace the mercy and forgiveness of God. Have the courage to be people and instruments of peace.
Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Feb 4, 2018
Have you ever been broken hearted? A time in your life when you were really broken, discouraged, wondering about this life? Perhaps a sickness, a loss of a job or career, the death of a loved one, a divorce or broken relationship. Some time when all that seemed important to you came crashing down. Then perhaps you can relate to Job in our First Reading. He is a man who is brokenhearted. He speaks of “months of emptiness”, “nights of misery”, “night is long, and I am full of tossing until dawn”, “my life is a breath”. This is a man who is really struggling.
The Beginning of Mark’s Gospel shows us Jesus as one who heals. Simon Peter’s mother-in-law is sick in bed with a fever. Jesus goes in, took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then many were coming, sick with various diseases and demons. Brokenhearted humanity was coming looking for healing. Jesus is seen as one who brings healing.
When we read the Gospels, it can be easy for us to look and see how wonderful Jesus was. A great healer back then. It takes away any responsibility from us. We look for Jesus to do something or someone special other than me. But, when we see something in Jesus, we the Church are called to do the same. Do not say, Jesus did great things back then as though it is something in the past. If Jesus was one that the brokenhearted went to in order to experience healing, then we know that they were also going to the early church to experience healing. It means that today we are to be instruments of healing in our world.
Do not look around for some other person with special healing powers. You are to be one who brings healing. As Jesus was a healer, so the Church is to be a healer, and not just some special person or the priest, all of you.
Where are you to bring healing? In your own home, your family. Where you work or study. In the community. Anywhere that we find people who are brokenhearted.
Our world has many places where healing is needed, many demons that need to be cast out.
Social Media – often we see hatred, bigotry, division expressed here. How do you use social media? In a way that heals or hurts?
Demons of prejudice, violence, division are seen in politics, between races, with indigenous peoples here in Canada, in the Me Too movement. We have to cast out these demons.
Often our words can be so destructive, so divisive, so harmful. Are the words you use, words that heal or words that hurt?
Like Jesus, let us take the people who are brokenhearted by the hand and lift them up. Let us be people who bring healing to those who are hurting, let us be people who cast out demons of hatred, division, injustice.
At the end of the Mass today, you will be sent out. Go out as a church of healing.
Question for reflection as we go out: Am I bringing healing or hurt? By my words and actions with all people, all situations, am I healing or hurting?