2019-10-27: How to Find Information and Formation in the Bible.
This is the link to the homily for Sunday, October 27, 2019: https://youtu.be/Ag5wz8RV6hU
How to Find Information and Formation in the Bible.
Sunday, October 27, 2019 homily by Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
Galatians 1:11-19 (20th Sunday after Pentecost).
Luke 8:41-56 (Seventh Sunday after the Holy Cross)
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Epistle, Gospel, and Homily below.
Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
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A Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians (1:11-19. 20th Sunday after Pentecost).
BRETHREN, I give you to understand that the Good News that was announced to you by me is not of man. For I did not receive it from man, nor was it taught to me [by man], but I received it by a revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of the way I lived before in Judaism: how I persecuted the Church of God and ravaged it beyond measure. And I advanced in Judaism above many of my contemporaries in my nation, showing much more zeal for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased him who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, immediately, without taking counsel with flesh and blood and without going up to Jerusalem to those who were appointed apostles before me, I retired into Arabia and again returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went to Jerusalem to see Peter, and I remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles, except James, the Lord’s brother.
The Holy Gospel According to St. Luke the Evangelist (Gospel of 7th Sunday of Cross, Luke 8:41-56).
AT that time behold, there came a man named Jairus to Jesus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at the feet of Jesus, he entreated him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. And it happened as he went that he was pressed upon by the crowds. And a certain woman who for twelve years had had a hemorrhage, and had spent all her means on physicians, but could not be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel of his cloak; and at once her hemorrhage ceased. And Jesus said, “Who touched me? But as all were denying it, Peter, and those who were with him, said, “Master, the crowds throng and press upon you , and you ask ‘Who touched me?” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I perceived that power had gone forth from me.” But the woman, seeing that she had not escaped notice, came up trembling, and falling down at his feet, declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been healed instantly. And he said to her, “Daughter, thy faith has saved thee; go in peace.” While he was yet speaking, there came one from the house of the ruler of the synagogue, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble him.” But Jesus on hearing this word answered the father of the girl, “Do not be afraid; only have faith and she shall be saved.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and James and John, and the girl’s father and mother. And all were weeping and mourning for her. But he said, “Do not weep; she is asleep, not dead.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he, taking her by the hand, cried out, saying, “Girl, arise! “And her spirit returned, and she rose up immediately. And he directed that something be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.
Reading the Bible should be very exciting for all of us. Unfortunately, sometimes when we read we only focus on what people said and did. This historical approach which tries to extract information from the Bible can be helpful, but if we only focus on this aspect of the Bible we are missing the richer meaning and purpose of reading the Bible. For example, in today’s Gospel, if all we focus on is that Jesus healed a woman then went on to bring back to life a young girl, we would only have scratched the surface of what we can learn from this passage.
What we want to learn from the Bible is not just historical information of facts and data but more importantly, how to find and apply helpful life principles. When we read the Bible, we are not searching for information to fill our mind but formation to fill our heart. We can apply this information-formation approach to every passage in the Bible. In fact, when we focus on the little gems we are able to see more of how the application of what we read can sparkle different aspects of our life. For example, what we read today is rich, but there is a particular section that can give us a clear road-map for our daily spiritual life. Saint Luke tells us: “A woman who could not be healed by any one, came up behind Jesus, and touched the fringe of his garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased” (Luke 8:43-44).
This verse is a great summary of the daily personal relationship that Jesus wants us to have with Him. Just this verse alone could radically change our life. In particular, we can focus on three aspects of this short verse: (1) The woman could not be healed by anyone. (2) The woman touched Jesus. (3) The woman was immediately healed.
First, the woman could not be healed by anyone. How can we apply this to our life? We know that our dreams, desires, and hopes sometimes overwhelm us. It is healthy to look for joy and happiness in every aspect of our life, but our expectations of life and of people sometime leaves us very disappointed. When we look for earthly comfort that is not connected to comfort in God we end up looking and looking, but not finding much.
For example, those who have various alcohol, drug, gambling, or sexual addictions keep returning to their addictions and to what is destroying their life and their relationships because what they hoped would bring them happiness actually keeps leading them to greater and greater deterioration. Finding comfort in and returning to what is making us sick will not heal us.
But what is the answer? It is here we can learn from what we heard today “The woman could not be healed by anyone.” It is an important first step for us to recognize that our deepest needs can’t be filled by anyone and our deepest wounds can’t be healed by anyone. We can’t stop there, but need to ask ourselves “Then who can heal us of our own sorrow, pain, loneliness, anger, or any other difficulty we may be having?”
We definitely need to turn to family and friends when things in life become difficult. Our family and friends can comfort us but as in the life of the woman in today’s Gospel, they too cannot fully heal us. So what is the answer? Should we despair that life is hopeless? Should we make a list of all that is wrong in the world, with others, or with ourselves and give up?
Our answer is in the second part of the verse: “The woman touched Jesus.” During our most difficult times what do we do? When we have a difficulty with a relationship, with a friendship, or with a family member, do we try to convince ourselves that we are right and they are wrong or do we first reach out and touch Jesus?
Today’s Gospel reminds us to go to Jesus before we try to figure out the answer on our own. God has the answer that we do not even know exists. We move from reading the Bible simply as information, to allowing it to be formation in our lives when we imitate the intensity and commitment of the woman who found Jesus in the crowd and touched Him. She was not afraid of those around Jesus. She was not afraid of what others were saying. Rather “the woman touched Jesus.”
What did she expect from Jesus? Why did she think Jesus was any different from the others who could not heal her? Regardless of her expectations and regardless of her fear, the Gospel tells us: “the woman was immediately healed.”
This is the third aspect of this very short verse. Jesus wants to heal us. Jesus wants to heal our pain. Jesus wants to restore broken friendships. Jesus wants to heal family turmoil and strife and Jesus wants to fill us with healing, comfort, and restoration in every aspect of our life.
This seems like a very simple verse: “A woman who could not be healed by any one, came up behind Jesus, and touched the fringe of his garment; and immediately her flow of blood ceased” (Luke 8:43-44). However, when we read the Bible in an interactive way we realize that the information we discover is only the starting point for the life changing formation that can transform every aspect of our lives.
Read the Bible, but more importantly read the Bible slowly, and even more importantly read the Bible interactively for information and life-changing formation.
Jesus healed others and He wants to heal us. The woman in today’s Gospel shows us the three stages. First, she recognizes that no one else could heal her. What do we want to be healed from and have we recognized that no one else can fully heal us? Second, she touched Jesus. Do we approach Jesus with the same intensity and faith that she approached Him? Third, she was immediately healed. When we imitate the faith of this woman, we will also experience immediate healing and joy in our lives.
We can all find time to read the Bible. Our goal is not to finish it from cover to cover in one day, but to reflect on at least one verse and dig for the rich treasure in that verse and how we can apply that treasure to our life.
Even through one verse God can transform our lives because what Jesus did for others in the passages we read, He also wants to do for us.