As we gather today in this Eucharist, where we are touched by the very presence of Jesus, let us ask him to heal what needs healing within us, and

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1 Bishop Deeley s Silver & Gold Mass Homily Holy Family Church, Lewiston June 27, 2015 Thirteenth Sunday (B) Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24; 2 Cor 8:7,9, 13-15; Mk 5:21-43 Good afternoon! It is good to be with you this afternoon here in Holy Family Church of Prince of Peace Parish. It is always good to be able to visit the churches of the diocese and to celebrate Mass with the different communities but it is a particular delight to be with you today to celebrate this Mass honoring the special anniversaries of marriage which we lift up in prayer this evening. Our prayer is one of gratitude for the gifts given to the couples who celebrate this evening. Their fidelity to the commitment they made to each other on their respective wedding days is a gift of grace. As such our prayer this evening is not just for those who celebrate these special anniversaries but for all married couples that God s grace will abound in their marriages so that they can show forth to the world the power and wonder of God s love manifest in their care for each other as spouses. It is the foundation of their treasured life in family. It seems very appropriate that we gather in this Church this evening dedicated as it is to the Holy Family. Christian marriage finds its fulfillment in the creation of a family, the fruit of the commitment of love which is the heart of marriage. Married love is, in God s plan, creative of life. The new life is nurtured and grows in a loving family. That is marriage as established in creation by our loving God. Just this week the Office of the Synod of Bishops in Rome published the Working Document which will be the basis for the discussions of the Synod in the Fall. As was the case last year the theme for this Synod continues to be a discussion on the family and the challenges and joys which marriage and family life confront in our world today. At the end of the document there is a reminder that Pope Francis has entrusted the work of the Synod to the Holy Family at Nazareth, repeating again that the beautiful example of Jesus own family invites us to rediscover the vocation and mission of the family. It begins with Christian marriage. So, it is most appropriate that we gather here in this church dedicated to the Holy Family for this celebration. And it is most appropriate that I offer a word of congratulation to all of you who are celebrating this evening. In

2 a few moments we will have the opportunity for each of you to remind yourselves of the commitment you made 65 or 5 years ago, and everything in between. It is a joy to be with you. At Christmas time last year I was preparing for the marriage of my last nephew to take that step. He was marrying in January. He was the one who waited a while for marriage. When he turned 40 without announcing an intention to marry the family started to get nervous. Finally, however, he announced his intentions and a wedding was scheduled within a few months. That was fairly quick for our family as these events usually involved months of planning and time lines stretching out for at least a year. As I planned my participation in the day I was thinking back to other family weddings. My niece had married in Each of my seven nephews had followed in turn a year or two apart. As I considered what I would say at this wedding in 2015 I realized that the word marriage had taken on a different meaning in the years I had been doing these family weddings. It had a certain meaning in Marriage was the joining of husband and wife, man and woman in a permanent relationship which saw as its purpose a sharing of life and love between the spouses and, if God so willed, the fruit of their natural complementarity and their love would be children. Everyone would have seen marriage in that same way 25 years ago. As I thought about what I would say at this wedding I realized it was now different. The word marriage has now been applied to different kinds of relationships. With the Supreme Court decision of June 26 th same sex unions will now civilly be recognized as marriage. Words matter. Words carry meaning. When we decide to change the meaning of words there are consequences. Communication becomes difficult because we are not sure what each of us understands when we utter the same sounds. That is my concern with this decision and the fact that it is now not just the decision of individual states but, according at least to the Supreme Court, a civil right contained in the 14 th Amendment of the Constitution. In my statement yesterday I spoke to the fact that I am profoundly disappointed with this decision as will be all those who see marriage as grounded in the nature of the human person and the complementarity of man and woman. What I am thankful for is that specific mention was made in the

3 same decision regarding the religious freedom of the Church to continue to teach as it believes. That being said, I do not expect to be forced to officiate at a marriage ceremony which I would not be able to acknowledge but I do wonder whether or not I will be able to teach the constant moral teaching of the Church on sexuality and its appropriate purpose, and will be able to employ persons for the carrying out of the mission of the Church in accord with its teachings. Those questions remain to be answered as we heard in the oral discussion of the Supreme Court leading up to this decision. This evening, however, we gather here to celebrate marriage as we have known it and understood its meaning as a Christian community. And, in a beautiful way our Gospel reading helps us to deepen our appreciation of the meaning of marriage and how it is lived out in life. The Gospel today gives us two stories and two miracles. The miracles are healings. In the first of those stories we meet Jairus. He is described as a synagogue official. As such he was an eminent layman who would have had responsibility to oversee the activities and finances of the synagogue. It would have been a position of importance in the community. We should note that, in Mark s Gospel the last time Jesus had visited a synagogue the officials had determined to kill him. Jairus care for his daughter leads him to act without hesitation as he humbles himself before Jesus and begs for his intervention to save his daughter. Jairus is unconcerned with the judgment of others who hold a negative opinion of Jesus. He is not even concerned about his own reputation in the community as he comes to Jesus. He asks Jesus, Please, come and lay your hands on her that she may get well and live. Jairus asks for the human touch of Jesus with the hope that it will bring a divine healing. Jesus agrees to go with him but our second story intervenes. A woman, nameless in the story, also approaches Jesus and seeks a healing. In her case she is unwilling to ask. She is too humble and feels that a simple touch will accomplish what she seeks. Imagine if you are Jairus in this situation. Jesus has agreed to go with him. They are on the way, and they are interrupted. I can only imagine what he was thinking as he realized the importance of each minute. Yet, the Gospel does not tell us that he tried to intervene or move aside this humble woman

4 seeking the same thing he was seeking. Finally, despite the news that his daughter is dead, they arrive at the house. When they get there Jesus takes just his three companions and Jairus and his wife, mother of the child, into the room where the child was. There the miracle was accomplished. Jesus took the child by the hand and invited her to arise. She does. As is ever the case in the stories of the Gospels, there are many things we can take from them. In this instance we can certainly see that the faith both Jairus and the woman who was healed showed in Jesus brought him to do what he did. Likewise, as we hear these stories we are reminded of our faith in Jesus. He touches us and restores us to life with his gift of eternal life. But what we need to see today is the way in which Jairus lived out his marriage. He was willing to give of himself so that he could do what he could for his daughter. He shows that he understood that marriage is a relationship that involves self-giving. He was less concerned about his own interests and devoted to his family. We don t see the whole story but we can trust that, before Jairus went to Jesus he had a conversation with his wife in which they determined what would happen. I say that because in the end of the story we are told that, together they entered into the room of the sick child with Jesus. It must have been easy for Jesus to determine who Jairus wife was as he entered the house. I trust that she came to see what had happened and to be by her husband s side. Christian marriage, my friends, is about self-giving. Each spouse seeks to serve the other so that what they create is more than either of them apart. They are a couple and they are a family helping each other to grow in an appreciation of God s gift of love and how it is lived in our world. It is for this reason that we speak of Christian marriage as a vocation. It shows forth in its self-giving the generous love of God we see in Jesus. When we wonder, What does it mean to say God loves me? we can look at you, the married couples in the community, and in your unselfish love and care for each other we see, concretely, in human flesh, the love of God.

5 As we gather today in this Eucharist, where we are touched by the very presence of Jesus, let us ask him to heal what needs healing within us, and strengthen each of us, and particularly our married couples, in our resolve to love one another, as Jesus has asked. May God bless you all.

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