04 July. Monday, Week 14

Saint Elisabeth of Portugal, optional memorial

1st Reading: Hosea 2:16-18, 21-22

God will restore the repentant people to their first love

On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, “My husband.” For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more.

I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.

On that day I will answer, says the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer ‘Jezreel.’

Gospel: Matthew 9:18-26

Two healings: the little girl and the bleeding woman

While Jesus was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples.

Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this sprad throughout that district.


Problems in the Family

Family and personal problems are heart-wrenching but can be the launching pad for religious growth, as in today’s readings. The repeated infidelities of Hosea’s wife triggered an emotional explosion in the prophet’s heart ; and Jesus is confronted with a family tragedy, the death of the synagogue leader’s young daughter.

Our parish church is sacred because it symbolises God’s compassionate and caring presence among us. Not only is religion rooted in normal everyday existence, but it can bring healing to disputes and even serious family problems. The prophet Hosea is caught up in a marital scandal. Not only has his wife been unfaithful, but he is not even sure of the paternity of two of the family’s three children. Only the first, a son, was really born to him (Hos 1:6, 8). Yet he finds it in his heart to forgive his straying wife, to mirror the compassion of God towards his sinful people.

Jesus takes the risk of made religiously unclean and being barred from entering the synagogue or temple; he let himself be touched by a woman with a flow of blood and then he takes a dead child by the hand (Lev 15:19-33; 21:1). There must have been in him a great sense of iner freedom, an overwhelming compassion, a decisive urge to help the needy, so that the “unclean” could presume to touch him and request him to touch them. Through all these examples we detect a wholesome way to live our religion according to the over-riding norm of loving concern for other.

The fringe of his garment

In today’s gospel Jesus is approached by two people who were very different in personality and social status. One was a synagogue official, who had a recognized and important religious role within the community. The other was a woman who suffered from a flow of blood, and who, in virtue of that condition, would have been considered ritually unclean, and, therefore, excluded from the synagogue. Not only were these two people at opposite ends of the religious spectrum of the time, but the way they approach Jesus is very different. The official comes up to him very publicly, bowing low in front of him. The woman secretly touches the fringe of Jesus’ cloak, not wanting to be noticed. In spite of their different standing within the community and their different approaches to Jesus, what they had in common was their great faith in Jesus and in his saving power. Jesus responds equally generously to both of these people, healing the official’s daughter and healing the woman of her condition. The gospel suggests that what matters to the Lord is not our standing in the community or how we approach him, how we pray, but the strength of our faith in him, the quality of our relationship with him. According to the opening line of today’s first reading, the Lord lured the people of Israel into the wilderness to speak to their heart. The Lord speaks to the heart of all of us who approach him and he always responds to our plea for help.. [MH]

St Elisabeth of Portugal.

Elizabeth (Isabel) of Aragon (1271-1336) became wife of King Denis of Portugal, with whom she had a son and a daughter. During her time as queen she was often an effective conciliator between opposing factions. Elizabeth was a very devout believer and after king Denis’ death (1325), she retired to the monastery of the Poor Clare nuns, joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and devoted the rest of her life to serving the poor and sick in obscurity. She was beatified in 1526 and canonized in 1625

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