Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons 1 July 2018


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


I love poetry, I used to write it but like my painting stopped doing so because of the pressure of academic and pastoral life. That I now know was not good for me! Little by little I return back to being the artist I always wanted to be, but lest you think I'm turning my back on all I have done, I am not. Nothing is wasted! Everything I have done, learnt and achieved is part of the tapestry and poem of God. I am a better wordsmith for having had the long discipline of study and teaching as well as the self-humbling experience of discovering the multi-faceted ways of God through others: my community, the students I have taught down the years, my loved parishioners and always my own pets, who reveal a world wider, better and more filled with the loving presence of the Spirit than I can find alone. They help me pierce the veil of God's presence among us.

This is my response to the two healing miracles in Mark's account of the raising of the daughter of Jairus from the dead and the healing of the unknown woman from her dreadful haemorrhage of many years (Mk 5:21-43). The older lady is by her very aliment 'defiling' all around her, though none as yet know it, cutting herself of from the ritual life of her faith, but also the real risk of being totally cast away. She is the 'epitome', symbol of what we humans have done and still do not only to women but also to any we consider 'unclean' (and that includes all life) on our planet. Her approach to Jesus could have gone badly wrong. She knows he can heal, but is too cut off from making a direct connection with him, by reason of the weight of religious tradition. How can an outcast have a voice in a society that will not listen? She acts with desperate dignity: stealthily, she dares to approach, to speak and to touch him. Power, Mark says, comes out from him, but Jesus' immediate response is to glare and ask who has done this thing?

It could have gone very badly with the crowd at this point, but Jesus turns things round, for he cleanses not only her, but also everybody else. Her response is a truthful identification of her desperate need, his gift to her and us is healing and our faith upheld. God has not let us down! It is the same with Jairus' daughter, a life beginning is cut short in death, but in response to a desperate faith, Jesus raises her to life. The point is that Jesus never leaves anybody in the condition he finds them, no matter how small the encounter, we are all changed.


Mary Oliver, a poet I love, writes in her poem the Snow Geese:

"I
held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt".

That insight captures for me how perhaps the encounters we have with Jesus should be. Our task is to be that kind of encounter for others. We must be that wonder and light of changed healing in this muddled world. We must cross, like the Christ, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, politics and other divisions- somehow, to touch others with joy!

Lectio

Mary Oliver

The Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the colour of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

Fr Robin Gibbons is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for the Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Oxford


Tags: Sunday Reflection, Fr Robin Gibbons

We Need Your Support

ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.

Please support our journalism by donating today.

Donate