Homily reflections for 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2006

Water shortages being experienced elsewhere in South East Queensland have not been a reality for us on the Sunshine Coast. Our dams are full. We have few restrictions on our use of water. Yet the debate over the proposed dams shows that provision of water is everyone's concern. It is about life. Wisdom says today: “To be – for this God created all; the world's created things have health in them, in them no fatal poison can be found” (Wisdom 1:14).

Yet, there is poison in our human community.

The shocking torture and death of 8 year old Sofia in Perth last week shocked everyone. Coming on top of the accounts of the depravity and death on a cruise ship, we are reminded once again us that there are many lost, broken and deranged people in our midst. And there are many men who are willing to take advantage of women and girls and so eager to justify themselves. On this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday we are also thinking of the widespread abuse in indigenous communities. All these evils are well engrained in our society which is in dire need of healing.

In sharp contrast to these bad news stories are the accounts in the Gospel today of Jesus tender and healing touch of two women. The young girl who has just become a woman of child bearing age in her culture, and the older women whose fertility had been taken from her by her illness for 12 years.

Because of the epidemic of child abuse amongst us today, touch has become almost taboo where children are concerned, and with good reason. But this situation has diminished our humanity. Jesus' integrity and his genuine presence to people enabled him to get beyond the taboos of his age and come into physical contact with these women. Jesus made personal contact with all the people involved. He did not caricature them as unclean or not worthy of his interest. In these encounters Jesus reconciles the two “daughters of Abraham” with their family and community from which they were excluded by nature of their femininity and their illness or death. He raises them from death to life. He heals them in a most fundamental way. We all know that we may have physical health but if we are do not have healthy relationships life can lack hope and meaning.

We do not see any of that integrity and healing in the bad news stories mentioned. We see only abuse, pain, death and denial. As Wisdom said, “Death was not God's doing” (Wisdom 1:13).

The father of the young girl, an important man, Jairus, fell at Jesus' feet and pleaded with him repeatedly to touch his daughter and save her. Many men as we know have great difficulty in asking for help. Faith in Jesus and desperation for his daughter led Jairus to put aside all sense of his own importance. The woman with the haemorrhage must have been humiliated because of her illness which excluded her from much of her community life. She mus have been embarrassed to approach Jesus at all so she touched him in secret, or so she thought. Her faith and need impelled her. In either case Jesus recognised their faith and their need without distinction. The two stories are moving in the depth human need and emotion that is revealed. They are stories of faith, hope, and love. They are a far cry from the evil intentions of some we hear about. In the bad news stories we see how petty evil desires are. In the light of these gospel accounts we see sin for the evil it really is.

Let us pray for healing of those hurt by abuse and conversion and healing for those who perpetrate such evils. Let us pray that we never reduce other people to mere objects to be ignored or abused for our own purposes. In the Eucharist Jesus touches all of us without distinction. In so doing may Wisdom's words become true for us: “To be – for this God created all; the world's created things have health in them, in them no fatal poison can be found.”

Fr Graham