Year of Paul Parties and Death
Reflections on forthcoming Mass readings by Tom and April Hoopes.
Sunday, June 28, is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, Cycle I).
On Sunday, June 28, at 6 p.m. Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the closing of the Year of St. Paul with vespers of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
On Monday, June 29, at 9:30 a.m. he will celebrate the Mass of Sts. Peter and Paul at St. Peter’s Basilica. He will present the pallium to archbishops from around the world, including Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller and Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron. Made of white wool, the pallium is a circular band that fits loosely around the neck. The lambs whose wool is used for the pallia are solemnly presented at the altar by the nuns of the convent of St. Agnes. These same nuns later weave the pallia.
We’ll be ending the year of St. Paul with a St. Paul birthday party. After seeing so many St. Paul movies, our son Benjamin chose St. Paul as his party theme.
We sent invitations on printed scrolls titled “The Letter of Benjamin to Liam Murphy” (etc.) with the Year of St. Paul insignia from the Vatican. Games will include:
• St. Paul Says (instead of Simon Says)
• Crown making
• Life of St. Paul Obstacle Course:
1. Take a stick horse “journey to Damascus.”
2. Lower the St. Paul action figure over the wall in the basket.
3. Dodge the “stones.”
4. Escape the shipwreck through the sprinkler.
5. Throw the snake into the bucket.
Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24; Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35-43
EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.
Today’s readings teach important, complementary messages about death that we don’t often hear.
1. Death is unchristian.
Christians can sometimes make too little of death. We refer to loved ones who “passed” or “passed away” or “passed on.” The language is fitting for a funeral, but it doesn’t do justice to what happens at death. Death is a horrible, unnatural thing unintended by God. It rips soul and body apart.
“God did not make death,” says the first reading. Rather, “by the envy of the devil, death entered the world.”
When we forget the horror of death, we can fall into errors like those some have fallen into regarding the unborn. Some people recognize that abortion is killing, but decide that the unborn are simply taking a shortcut to heaven. That doesn’t do justice to the reality of death, which is demonic, or the horror of abortion, which mothers suffering from Post-Abortion Syndrome know.
2. Christ’s victory over death is complete.
To make too little of death doesn’t just misunderstand death; it misunderstands the greatness of God.
After all, if death just means “passing on” to a better world, then what’s the big deal about Christ? So, he came, died and rose. If death is just a transition, then we all do that, in a way.
One reason Jesus brought back dead people (the son of the widow of Naim, Lazarus and, today, Jairus’ daughter) was to show us that Jesus doesn’t want us to die.
He doesn’t want us to be ripped asunder, body from spirit, by a devil who delights in seeing God’s image marred.
Since Jesus doesn’t want us to die, and he is all powerful, he puts a stop to death — in a few cases directly but temporarily, and in our cases permanently, through his own resurrection, which he promises us a share in.
Today’s Psalm shows the proper response to God’s action: a total surrender into gratitude.