Sunday 28 June 2020

Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

Word of Today
The Gospel of Mark 5:21-43

Space to Life

Do you want life?
Life needs space in order to move and to live.  There is no life without movement and as soon as life gives signals that something is wrong and needs to be changed or improved, there is no question that it is a sign signalling a reduction in movement. Physical and interior pain always  impede movement.
Disease, even a simple fever or a headache  reduces movement and when life reduces movment it signals that somewhere there is a lack of space.
Tight clothing hurts the body always as it does not permit movement and takes away space. Living in spaces without space impedes free movement, increases nervousness, and predisposes people to altered emotional states.
Even being closed in by daily, repetitive mental habits takes away space and thus life. Having little mental space  - out of ignorance or laziness - takes away the space your being needs to move around in. Prejudice takes away space, judging continuously takes space away from your trust in yourself and in others. Sin in itself takes away space always and in any case. Disease always reduces physical, mental and spiritual space. It reduces space and thus without anyone being aware of it, the movment needed for life is reduced.
Accusing others, slandering their person is taking away vital space and movement from them but paradoxically it also means nailing them with nails of spite to the folds of your heart. The more you hate someone, the more you keep that person glued to your heart and thoughts. Even an overly anxious mother takes away vital space to move around in from her children who are forced to endure her presence. The fear of losing someone you love takes away space and movement from your life. But the prince of the non-space kingdom is possession. Possessing is equivalent to dying and, inevitably, to cause death If you try taking away space from those you say you love, you will take away their movement, you will kill love over time, and you might even reduce, without intending to, the life of those persons you say you love.
Jealousy takes away space, avarice takes away space. That is why the blood did not stop in the woman with a hemorrhage who Jesus encountered that day.
When is a river  forced to overflow from its banks? When the volume of water is superior to what the river bed can hold, of course.
That woman’s veins were narrow. Her veins were withered by failures, by lack of love, hardened by humiliations and by spiteful events she had been involved in. Her veins were narrow but they were still so full of life and the capacity to love and to change, to be born again, to enjoy, to start over again. In the past 12 years those veins were no longer able  to keep the force of life bottled up. It was a blood flow that did not represent death, but the life of a people no longer able to repress the urge to love or to keep all the grace and love the Lord had bestowed on them bottled up in fear and ignorance.
The number 12 symbolizes the catholicity of that hemorrhaging woman who represents all of humanity.
Narrow veins, moral laws, habits, institutional structures, religious forms tend to dry up a man or a nation, just as educational processes and relational wounds reduce the space of life in people’s hearts.  But man’s heart - made in God’s image  and likeness - belongs to God and so our hearts pump in any case love, desire for peace, beauty, grace, forgiveness, innovation, conversion, light.
That woman is crying out in silence to her God that her heart is full, overflowing with love, but at the same time she knows that her mind is narrow, sinful, possessive, impure. It is a cry that denotes courage and respectful effrontery, tender boldness. A cry asking for pity and a request for forgiveness which is expressed in a new movement: to touch Jesus, to touch his clothes.
For a lifetime she accepted being touched at her “work,” in order to be someone, to make a living. For a lifetime she accepted love without love, intimate contact without any closeness, pleasure without grace. Her life seemed to progress by hit or miss and in some way it may have suited her, and in any case that was how it was. But life and love stirred and gave signals that it was time to change, to really change. And a rebirth took place. By touching  and letting herself be touched, that woman had lost the movement of love. She had lost herself, she had sold her capacity to love as well as her dignity. She had reduced space for  spiritual care and grace. She had turned the space of trust in herself   into shame and dislike for herself. The movement of life dried up and died. When she saw Jesus in the crowd that day she used the contact that she was used to – a hidden , cloaked one. Jesus instilled in that woman, in that people, the  desire to touch God, to move towards him, to change direction away from the usual one.
Later there was another twelve to save, a child. She too represents the peoples and the nations but she represents them in the final stages of reduction of space and thus of movement: death.
Any person or people that is oppressed or enslaved, limited in their freedom to be themselves, impoverished in their ability to live the space of life, feelings, and ideals dies. Persons without space to move, compelled by economic necessities, disease, hunger, or ignorance sooner or later lie dying on a bed of starvation and inertia. Entire peoples and nations are dragging themselves around without space and without movement to their deathbed. Jesus saves even from this terrible absence of movement and vital space which is death. Only Jesus saves with an eternal movement. He takes the child by the hand and makes her return to life.  The child got up immediately and began to do what she had never done: she began to walk. Jesus makes you get up from a bed of starvation, he makes you  rise up out of the narrow minded training you were subjected to, he heals you from illness, he takes your hand and he saves you, but only  so that you can start to walk, to recover the movement of life by loving and serving others. This is the movement of the Trinity: taking us by the hand always and making us walk towards God for eternity.
God does this in order to embrace us, to console us, to help us up, to dance, to sing, to talk to us. God always takes your hand. Cerebral contact does not exist for God. God does not think about us, we are not in His thoughts, but always in His hands. He caresses you even when you are mad, sad, or do spiteful things to others or to yourself. He caresses you always, keeps contact, faithfully maintains his favorite movement: a hug, a kiss, a caress. If, by the way, you could see Jesus right now and you wanted to hear what He has to give you, forget about listening. Jesus would never start talking if He wanted to tell you something. He would simply take your hand and he would communicate with you all the same and even better simply by touching you.
When you pray to God, more than listen to you, He comes down to your side and touches you. He touches your hands, your heart, your head, your eyes and your skin as well as your soul. That’s what he did to create you, immagine if He misses any chance to do it again and to let you savor life and how much He loves you.