Jesus’ Miracles Are Signs of the Sacraments

User’s Guide to Sunday, June 27

The sanctuary is seen at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Niagara, New York.
The sanctuary is seen at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Niagara, New York. (photo: Photo by Jonathan Dick, OSFS on Unsplash)

Sunday, June 27, is the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Mass Readings: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30:2-13; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43.

The first reading speaks of the goodness of creation. “God did not make death,” the ancient sage says, “nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” He continues, “All the creatures of the world are wholesome … for God formed man to be imperishable. … By the envy of the devil, death entered the world.” The biblical worldview is that death is an invader, not part of God’s original plan. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life, by which they could live forever (Genesis 2:9, 16; 3:22), and the plants were food for all creatures (Genesis 1:29-30), so even killing and eating among the animals was unnecessary. But man’s sin and the supernatural forces of evil (the devil and his demons) have marred God’s good creation. Yet it will not remain this way forever: In the world to come, death will be overcome and harmony restored (Revelation 21:4).

In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls Christians back to a biblical view of creation. We can make two mistakes about the environment: to divinize it or to discount it. But a Christian attitude recalls our original commission to “work and guard” the garden (Genesis 2:15, in Hebrew). “Work” means to cultivate and develop it, because it is a gift to us to provide for all our needs. “Guard” means to protect and preserve it, because it is God’s good gift to us and has its own beauty and worth. 

In the second reading, St. Paul teaches us about caring for Christians in need “as a matter of equality: Your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs.” The Church, too, is a kind of “ecosystem” that needs to be in “ecological balance.” In the Garden of Eden there was harmony between man and animals, not fighting and competing for survival. So it should be in the Church: Rather than see competition as an end in itself, those with resources should, when charity requires it, supply the needs of those without. When the Church doesn’t do this, society turns to secular “messiahs” like Marxism and socialism to provide for the needs of the poor. 

In the Gospel from St. Mark, the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage (5:25-34) is “sandwiched” within the healing of Jairus’ daughter (5:21-24; 35-43). (St. Mark likes this “sandwich” technique and uses it nine times.) In these healings, Jesus shows himself to be the God of the Book of Wisdom, who “did not make death” and “formed humans to be imperishable.” He removes the effects of sin and Satan from the bodies of these two women, one old and one young. He heals through the touch of his body; likewise, his Mystical Body, the Church, continues his healing ministry to this day, through the world’s largest health-care system. The “hospital” is a Christian invention. But just healing the body is not enough, because our souls need healing, too. 

Jesus’ miracles are signs of the sacraments: In baptism (Romans 6:4) and reconciliation (James 5:15), Jesus raises us from the dead, saying to us, as to Jairus’ daughter, “Arise!” And in the Eucharist the Church fulfills the command of Our Lord after he raises the girl from the dead, “Give her something to eat.” 

These healings are foretastes of what Jesus will say to us on the Last Day, when he will take us by the hand out of our graves (John 5:25; 6:54) and invite us to eat once more from the Tree of Life (Revelation 3:20; 22:2).

Pentecost depicted in stained glass.

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