Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We were out of town this past weekend and went to church on Sunday at the parish in Little Rock, AR where my husband had gone to school for 1st-8th grades. It was a nice church and the priest that is currently there gave a very nice homily about the end of the Year of St. Paul (ended June 29) and the beginning of the Year of the Priest (started June 19). He used that opportunity to ask the congregation to pray for all priests. I enjoyed his homily, unfortunately he didn't really talk about the Gospel much. So my reflection below is entirely my own with no influence from the homily I heard following the proclamation of the Gospel on Sunday.

As a result of our travels, I didn't pick up a bulletin from my church until Monday morning when I was there for my Adoration hour and it has taken me until now to sit down with it and think about the "Following the Message" question for this week. The gospel reading for this past Sunday was Mark 5:21-43. In this passage we see Jesus and the apostles being approached by a man who's daughter is very sick. On the way to his house a crowd gathers and a woman who has been suffering for 12 years from hemorrhaging touches Jesus' cloak and is cured. Jesus also raises the young girl up (she had died by the time He arrived). Read the passage in Mark for the fuller story, that's just my quick summary.

The question this week: When have I stepped out boldly in faith?
(Sorry, no alternate question for kids this time.)

Along with the question, our bulletin provides some additional food for thought. Here is that text:
This Gospel passage highlights the crucial importance of having faith, and acting upon it. "Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 153). "Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act," wherein our intellect and will are actively engaged in "trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed" (CCC 154). "To live, grow, and persevere in the faith until the end, we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be working through charity, abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church" (CCC 162). "The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it" (CCC 1816).

When I first read the question the only thing that came to mind was defending the faith, but I don't think that's what the question is really getting at. Given the Gospel reading for this past Sunday, I keep thinking about the woman who was seeking healing. She had great faith!! She knew that she would be healed if she could only just touch Him. She knew this because of her faith. That got me thinking more about just how strong my faith is. Am I that confident that I can just know without a doubt that Jesus could also do something for me the same as this woman. It's hard to admit, but I'm not sure I am that strong. It is human to have doubts and to be a bit sceptical. I have been contemplating this Gospel reading since I first heard it during Mass on Sunday (mostly because I know I was going to be writing about it) and the more and more I think about it the more I admire the woman in the passage. What an amazing faith!!

Then I read the excerpts from the Catechism that I quoted above and that got me thinking more. (That is the whole point of this, isn't it?) Those excerpts really help me put it into perspective. Faith is something that has to grow in us and doesn't happen all at once. It develops over our lifetime and the whole time we have the help of the Holy Spirit in us to help us along the way. I am only starting to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit more and more in my life. The HS is the one part of the Holy Trinity I always tend to overlook. But I am starting to get better about recognizing the importance of It and over time will hopefully learn to listen more.

But back to the question itself: have I ever stepped out boldly in faith? I keep getting stuck on the word "boldly." And I keep coming back to defending the faith. I have stepped out a number of times in defensive of some misunderstanding in regard to the Catholic faith. I have stepped out boldly at times to speak up on pro-life issues when I have had the opportunity. And posting on this blog about my faith is a huge step at times as well. But have I acted boldly?? That's what I'm not sure about. I'm not always the best example of a Christian (I imagine few of us are all the time) but I try. Lately I've been trying harder. Part of the reason is my recent involvement in Cursillo. Through Cursillo I am gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for Catholicism and I love the regular weekly discussions of our faith to help us stay on track as we continue to grow in our faith over a lifetime.

There is one "action" I can think of that might answer the question. Last summer about this time I was getting frustrated with my cycles. I had had a miscarriage in March and it had been over four months and my cycles were not getting back to normal. It was frustrating knowing that we wanted children and nothing was happening. About that time I started running into a saint I had never heard of before. Finally, after this happened a couple times I decided that maybe I needed to find out more about her. So I looked up St. Philomena and then decided to ask her for her help. I had never really done this before but decided it was time. So I prayed for healing. I asked for her to intercede and I did a nine day novena for her. I finished the novena on a Monday, had a doctor appointment on Tuesday to see if my doctor had any recommendations, then on Wednesday my chart finally indicated a thermal shift! I was amazed. Sure enough we got pregnant too! I was stunned!! I had faith that St. Philomena was close to God and that she too would ask Him to heal me and He did. Is this stepping out boldly in faith?? It was certainly a leap for me.

So I ask you (anyone reading this): what about you? Does that reading speak to you? Can you think of a time when you have stepped out boldly in faith? What other thoughts do you have on this question and/or Gospel passage?


  1. I recently read a book by Francis Chan called Crazy Love (he is a pastor of a church in CA) and one of his chapters focused on this question - how are you stepping out boldly in faith? It was a very convicting and throught-provoking question for me. There are certainly areas where I can step out on faith more, God will also lead me to those areas, and others it's daily: I step out in faith with finances, parenting, conversations, even "daring" to put Scriptures on my facebook page when I know not all of my "friends" agree or will skip over them. But getting beyond what people think about me and only caring about storing up treasures in Heaven and drawing others to Christ and the amazing relationship they can have with Him - that is stepping out in faith for me right now. I long to remind myself of this challenge each and every day. Thank you - great post! I know you and I don't always agree on the details of our individual faiths and interpretation of Scripture, but we both seek the heart of God and a relationship with Christ and that is what matters.

  2. Tara: I love that you're putting Scripture up on FB!! I think it's a great way to evangelize. Definitely being bold in your faith. And you're right, that we can be bold in our faith through everyday things as well. Thanks for your reflection!