July 1, 2012 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  Did you know that the Bible contains 366 references to not being afraid – one for every day of the year, including leap year!  Yet so many young Catholics I know struggle with fear, confusion, and doubts. Today’s readings are good news for those of us who need a “faith boost.”  In this Sunday’s readings, we are taken to some of our greatest fears and given the hope of God’s greater power and love.

The first reading begins, “God did not make death.”  At first this statement can be confusing. We might wonder, “If God did not make death, then why do people die?”  We learn from the same passage that death is the consequence of sin, and through the devil death entered the world. But this is not the end of the story; this is not the final word. The Psalmist says, “I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.” God has rescued us. He has saved us from the power of sin and death. As children of God, we know that physical death is not the end. It is the beginning. It is the beginning of eternal life with Christ. This has all happened because of the sacrifice of Christ. Because of original sin, all of mankind is under the judgment of death.  In God’s justice, mankind received the just punishment for rejecting Him and choosing evil.  But God is love and He would not let justice have the last word.

In the second reading, St. Paul speaks of, “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jesus became poor that we might be rich in His mercy. He chose to die for us that we might not die, but have eternal life; and that is the heart of the gospel. Yes, we sinned. Yes, we deserve death. But Jesus took our punishment, and He paid our debt. When He rose from the dead He gave new life to the world. We can have that new life through being one with Jesus.  And this is exactly what the gospel teaches us.  In the story, we read about a woman who was suffering and a young girl who was dead.  Both are saved through faith. The woman, who was suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years, had heard about Jesus, sought Him out in the crowd, reached out and touched His clothing, and was cured through her faith. The young girl is dead, but her father has faith and she is saved from death. Both are saved by an encounter with Christ. One touches Christ, the other hears Christ.  Both are healed and receive new life.

So, what does this mean to you as a young Catholic? I think it means that if Christ can handle death, He can handle any of your fears. It means no matter what you have to endure in life, God can provide a way.  It means we are never alone, never without hope, and never without love. Christ is always with us and He will always love us.  We need to live in communion with Christ and His love and He will give us His life.  I pray you remember that you were not created for this world, which is passing.  You were created for more. You were created for Christ and His love.  I pray that you remember that when you are filled with worry or doubt, you can go to Jesus, give Him your fears and be filled with His love and peace.  I pray you remember the words of Jesus, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

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