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From: Hebrews 12:1-4

The Example of Christ

[1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us al-
so lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with per-
severance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus the pioneer and per-
fecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, de-
spising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that
you may not grow weary or faint-hearted. [4] In your struggle against sin you have
not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.


1-3. After recalling the exemplary faith and fidelity of the righteous of the Old Tes-
tament, a moral lesson is now drawn: Christians should be no less faithful—parti-
cularly since they have as a model not only patriarchs, kings and prophets but
also Christ Jesus himself, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”, in other words,
he is the perfect example of obedience, of faithfulness to his mission, of union
with the Father, and of endurance in suffering.

Christ is depicted as the strong, generous athlete who runs a good race (cf. 1
Cor 9:24; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 2:6), who starts and finishes well, who does not flag
and who wins the race. A Christian should live in the same way (cf. Gal 2:2; Phil
2:16; 5:7). It is as if we were listening again to what St Paul says in Philippians
2:5-9: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus.” Christ’s
example helps us to overcome contempt and it reminds us that we should not be
surprised to meet up with humiliation and hostility rather than success and rejoi-
cing (cf. Mt 10:24; Lk 6:40). “Cross, toil, anguish: such will be your lot as long as
you live. That was the way Christ went, and the disciple is not above his Master”
(St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 699).

1. This verse contains three remarkable expressions which stress the need to be
faithful in spite of difficulties. The first is the “cloud of witnesses”, a reference to
the multitude of holy people in the course of the history of Israel who stayed faith-
ful to God (cf. 11:2, 4, 5, 39); they are a cloud, a huge number filling the sky. In
classical literature one often finds an army advancing in battle array being com-
pared with a storm forming in the sky. Also, the image of the cloud suggests
that these witnesses are high up, near the sun, a sign of their spiritual stature.

They are “witnesses”, that is, active spectators of the combat in which Chris-
tians are involved. This evokes the idea of spectators at the Games who follow
the events from the stands, applauding, shouting and gesticulating.

“Sin which clings so closely”: one interpretation of the original is “sin which wat-
ches us closely, like an enemy, to see where he can attack us”. It is the same
kind of idea as occurs in 1 Pet 5:8, where it says that the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and as in Gen 4:7 where God
describes sin as couching at the door (like a hungry wild animal ready to pounce).
The verb used to describe sin indicates it is something which surrounds one on
all sides (cf. RSV) and can easily get a foothold and is persistent. “We may have
here an allusion to occasions of sin, to the fact that sin is present all around us,
that is, in the world, in the flesh, in our neighbor and in the devil” (St Thomas,
“Commentary on Heb.”, ad loc.). Sin is also a “weight” which hinders our move-
ments and reduces our agility; there may also be a reference here to being over-
weight. The athlete needs to shed any surplus weight and keep to a strict trai-
ning schedule involving many small renunciations (cf. 1 Cor 9:25). His only hope
of success in the Games depends on this.

Finally, Christians are invited to “run with perseverance”. Theirs is not a short
race but a long test which calls for endurance and an ability to cope with pain and
fatigue. “Just as in a race and in combat we need to shed everything that cramps
our movements, the same happens in the struggle of tribulation. ‘I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race,’ St Paul says (2 Tim 4:7). So, he who wants
to run well towards God in the midst of tribulation should shed all useless weight.
The Apostle describes this encumbrance as ‘weight, and sin which clings so clo-
sely’. This weight is the sins we have committed, which pull the soul downwards
and incline it to sin again” (”Commentary on Heb, ad loc.”).

Essentially, the verse emphasizes the need for detachment if one is to win in the
struggle of life: “Anything that does not lead to God is a hindrance. Root it out
and throw it far from you” (St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 189).

2. The Christian should fix his gaze on Jesus, in the same way as a runner, once
the race has begun, lets nothing distract him from his determination to reach his

“If you want to be saved,” St Thomas writes, “look at the face of your Christ. He
is the pioneer of our faith, in two senses. He teaches it through his preaching
and he also impresses it on our heart. In two senses also is he the perfecter of
our faith: he consigns faith by his miracles and it is he who gives faith its reward”
(”Commentary on Heb, ad loc.”).

Christ is the “pioneer” of our faith in the sense that he has marked out the path
Christians should take. He is the captain and guide of all the faithful, the cham-
pion who takes the lead and opens the way, setting the pace. The reference
evokes what Hebrews 6:20 says about Jesus being our “forerunner”.

Christ is the “pioneer” of our faith, the cause of our faith; it is he that we first be-
lieve in and, as author of grace, it is he who infuses this virtue into our souls. The
title of “pioneer”, initiator, may also indicate that Christ is for the Christian—and
for the universe—beginning and end, alpha and omega (cf. Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:13).
In the same line, Jesus is also the “perfecter” of our faith, for it is he who will
lead us to perfection in faith and will transform it into the perfection of glory. He
will crown his work in us (cf. St Augustine, “Letter 194”, 5), for if we believe it is
because he has moved us to faith, and if we are glorified it will be because he
has helped us to stay true to the end.

Everything Christ did in his life is a perfect example for us to follow particularly
the way he underwent his passion. “In the passion of Christ there are three things
to consider: in the first place what he gave up, then what he suffered, and thirdly
what he merited. As far as the first is concerned, (Hebrews) speaks of his leaving
‘the joy that was set before him’, that is, joy or happiness here on earth, as when
the crowd sought him out to make him king and he fled to the mountain despising
that honor [...]. Then describing the happiness of eternal life as his reward, he ‘en-
dured the cross’: that is the second thing, namely, that he suffered the cross. ‘He
humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’ (Phil
2:8). In this the terrible severity of his suffering is manifested, for he was nailed to
the cross by his hands and feet, and the opprobrium of this death, for it was an
ignominious death [...]. The third thing, that is, what he merited, is being seated
at the right hand of the Father. Thus, the exaltation of Christ’s human nature was
the reward for his passion” (”Commentary on Heb, ad loc.”).

Christ is the pioneer of our faith by his death on the Cross, and its perfecter by
his glorification. Only those who share in Christ’s sufferings will be raised up like
him in glory (cf. Rom 6:8). The Christian life begins in Christ and finds its climax
in him.

To bring about our redemption any form of suffering would have sufficed; but such
was our Lord’s love for us that he accepted the ignominy of death on a cross.

“By now they have fastened Jesus to the wooden cross. The executioners have
ruthlessly carried out the sentence. Our Lord, with infinite meekness, has let
them have their way.

“It was not necessary for him to undergo so much torment. He could have avoi-
ded those trials, those humiliations, that ill-usage, that iniquitous judgment, and
the shame of the gallows, and the nails and the lance.... But he wanted to suffer
all this for you and for me. And we, are we not going to respond?

“Very likely there will be times, when alone in front of a crucifix, you find tears
coming to your eyes. Don’t try to hold them back.... But try to ensure that those
tears give rise to a resolution” (St J. Escriva, “The Way of the Cross”, XI, 1).

3. “What does Christ teach you from the height of the Cross, from which he
chose not to come down, but that you should arm yourself with valor against
those who revile you, and be strong with the strength of God?” (St Augustine,
“Enarrationes in Psalmos”, 70, 1). The difficulties Jesus had to contend with
were quite exceptional: Jews and Gentiles opposed him; he suffered every kind
of humiliation, to the extreme of his passion and death; but what pained him most
was the hard-heartedness, spiritual blindness and impenitence of those who had
come to save. The “sinners” who proved “hostile” to Jesus are not only Caiaphas,
Herod, Pilate, etc. but also those who continue to sin despite his redemptive sa-
crifice. Yet our Lord bore all this patiently and exhibited to a supreme degree the
virtues and qualities he asks of his disciples.

In Christ, and in Christians, weakness becomes strength, humiliation and glory.
“(Jesus) dies nailed to the Cross. But if at the same time in this weakness there
is accomplished his “lifting up”, confirmed by the power of the Resurrection, then
this means that the weaknesses of all human sufferings are capable of being in-
fused with the same power of God manifested in Christ’s Cross” (John Paul II,
“Salvifici Doloris”, 23).

The sacred text seeks to inspire the faithful with hope and strength by sugges-
ting that they contemplate Christ’s sufferings. That in fact has led many Chris-
tians to turn over a new leaf. St Teresa of Avila describes how it changed her:
“By this time my soul was growing weary, and, though it desired to rest, the mi-
serable habits which now enslaved it would not allow it to do so. It happened that,
entering the oratory one day, I saw an image which had been procured for a cer-
tain festival that was observed in the house and had been taken there to be kept
for that purpose. It represented Christ sorely wounded; and so conducive was it
to devotion that when I looked at it I was deeply moved to see him thus, so well
did it picture what he suffered for us. So great was my distress when I thought
how ill I had repaid him for those wounds that I felt as if my heart were breaking,
and I threw myself down beside him, shedding floods of tears and begging him
to give me strength once for all so that I might not offend him” (”Life”, IX, 1).

4-13. Following Christ’s example, Christians should struggle to avoid sin; they
should put up with tribulation and persecution because if such adversity arises
it means that the Lord permits it for our good. The letter’s tone of encourage-
ment seems to change here to one of reproach. It is as if the writer were saying,
“Christ gave his life for your sins, contending even to the point of dying for you;
how is it that you do not put up with suffering, out of love for him? It is true that
you are being persecuted: God is disciplining you as a Father disciplines his
children. But you are children of God and therefore your attitude should be one
of abandonment to his will even when it seems hard. That is the way a Father
brings up his children.”

The main point is that the only important thing is fidelity to God, and that the sin
of apostasy is the greatest of all misfortunes. “Don’t forget, my son, that for you
on earth there is but one evil, which you must fear and avoid with the grace of
God: sin” (St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 386).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 02/04/2013 10:56:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Mark 5:21-43

Jairus’ Daughter is Restored to Life.
The Curing of the Woman With a Hemorrhage

[21] And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great
crowd gathered about Him; and He was beside the sea. [22] Then came one
of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Him, he fell at His
feet, [23] and besought Him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death.
Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
[24] And He went with him.

And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. [25] And there was
a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, [26] and who had suffered
much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no bet-
ter but rather grew worse. [27] She had heard the reports about Jesus, and
came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. [28] For she said,
“If I touch even His garments, I shall be made well.” [29] And immediately the
hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
[30] And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone forth from Him, imme-
diately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched My garments?” [31]
And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing around You, and
yet You say, `Who touched Me?’” [32] And He looked around to see who had
done it. [33] But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear
and trembling and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. [34] and
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be
healed of your disease.”

[35] While He was speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said,
“Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” [36] But ignoring
what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only be-
lieve.” [37] And He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and
John the brother of James. [38] When they came to the house of the ruler of the
synagogue, He saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. [39] And
when He had entered, He said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep?
The child is not dead but sleeping.” [40] And they laughed at Him. But He put
them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were
with Him, and went in where the child was. [41] Taking her by the hand He said
to her, “Talitha cumi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you arise.” [42] And im-
mediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old. And immedi-
ately they were overcome with amazement. [43] And He strictly charged them
that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


21-43. Both Jairus and the woman with the flow of blood give us an example of
faith in Christ’s omnipotence, for only a miracle can cure Jairus’ daughter, who
is on her death-bed, and heal this lady, who has done everything humanly pos-
sible to get better. Similarly, the Christian should always expect God to help
him overcome the obstacles in the way of his sanctification. Normally, God’s
help comes to us in an unspectacular way, but we should not doubt that, if it is
necessary for our salvation, God will again work miracles. However, we should
bear in mind that what the Lord expects of us is that we should every day fulfill
His will.

22. At the head of each synagogue was the archisynagogist, whose function it
was to organize the meetings of the synagogue on Sabbaths and holy days, to
lead the prayer and hymns and to indicate who should explain the Sacred Scrip-
ture. He was assisted in his task by a council and also had an aide who looked
after the material side of things.

25. This woman suffered from an illness which implied legal impurity (Leviticus
14:25ff). Medical attention had failed to cure her; on the contrary, as the Gos-
pel puts it so realistically, she was worse than ever. In addition to her physical
suffering—which had gone on for twelve years—she suffered the shame of feeling
unclean according to the Law. The Jews not only regarded a woman in this po-
sition as being impure: everything she touched became unclean as well. There-
fore, in order not to be noticed by the people, the woman came up to Jesus from
behind and, out of delicacy, touched only His garment. Her faith is enriched by
her expression of humility: she is conscious of being unworthy to touch our Lord.
“She touched the hem of His garment, she approached Him in a spirit of faith,
she believed, and she realized that she was cured [...]. So we too, if we wish to
be saved, should reach out in faith to touch the garment of Christ” (St. Ambrose,
“Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam”, VI, 56 and 58).

30. In all that crowd pressing around Him only this woman actually touched Je-
sus — and she touched Him not only with her hand but with the faith she bore in
her heart. St. Augustine comments: “She touches Him, the people crowd Him.
Is her touching not a sign of her belief?” (”In Ioann. Evang.”, 26, 3). We need
contact with Jesus. We have been given no other means under Heaven by which
to be saved (cf. Acts 4:12). When we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we
obtain this physical contact through the sacramental species. We too need to
enliven our faith if these encounters with our Lord are to redound to our salvation
(cf. Matthew 13:58).

37. Jesus did not want more than these three Apostles to be present: three was
the number of witnesses laid down by the Law (Deuteronomy 19:15). “For Jesus,
being humble, never acted in an ostentatious way (Theophilactus, “Enarratio In
Evangelium Marci, in loc.”). Besides these were the three disciples closest to
Jesus: later, only they will be with Him at the Transfiguration (cf. 9:2) and at His
agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. 14:33).

39. Jesus’ words are in contrast with those of the ruler’s servants; they say:
“Your daughter is dead”; whereas He says: “She is not dead but sleeping”. “To
men’s eyes she was dead, she could not be awoken; in God’s eyes she was
sleeping, for her soul was alive and was subject to God’s power, and her body
was resting, awaiting the Resurrection. Hence the custom which arose among
Christians of referring to the dead, whom we know will rise again, as those who
are asleep” (St. Bede, “In Marci Evangelium Expositio, in loc.”). What Jesus
says shows us that, for God, death is only a kind of sleep, for He can awaken
anyone from the dead whenever He wishes. The same happens with the death
and resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus says: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep,
but I go to awaken him out of sleep.” And, when the disciples think that it is or-
dinary sleep He is referring to, our Lord tells them plainly: “Lazarus is dead” (cf.
John 11:11ff).

40-42. Like all the Gospel miracles the raising of the daughter of Jairus demon-
strates Christ’s divinity. Only God can work miracles; sometimes He does them
in a direct way, sometimes by using created things as a medium. The exclusive-
ly divine character of miracles—especially the miracle of raising the dead — is no-
ticed in the Old Testament: “The Lord wills and brings to life; He brings down to
Sheol and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6), because He has “power over life and death”
(Wisdom 16:13). And also in the Old Testament God uses men to raise the
dead to life: the prophet Elijah revives the son of the widow of Sarepta by “crying
to the Lord” (cf. 1 Kings 17:21), and Elisha prevails on Him to raise the son of
the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:33).

In the same way, in the New Testament the Apostles do not act by their own po-
wer but by that of Jesus to whom they first offer fervent prayer: Peter restores to
life a Christian woman of Joppa named Tabitha (Acts 9:36ff); and Paul, in Troas,
brings Eutychus back to life after he falls from a high window (Acts 20:7ff). Je-
sus does not refer to any superior power; His authority is sovereign: all He has
to do is give the order and the daughter of Jairus is brought back to life; this
shows that He is God.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 02/04/2013 10:57:49 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Readings at Mass

First reading Hebrews 12:1-4 ©
With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.

Psalm Psalm 21:26-28,30-32 ©
They shall praise you, Lord, those who seek you.
My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
  The poor shall eat and shall have their fill.
They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him.
  May their hearts live for ever and ever!
They shall praise you, Lord, those who seek you.
All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord,
  all families of the nations worship before him;
They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth;
  before him shall bow all who go down to the dust.
They shall praise you, Lord, those who seek you.
And my soul shall live for him, my children serve him.
  They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
declare his faithfulness to peoples yet unborn:
  ‘These things the Lord has done.’
They shall praise you, Lord, those who seek you.

Gospel Acclamation Jn14:6
Alleluia, alleluia!
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord;
No one can come to the Father except through me.
Or Mt8:17
Alleluia, alleluia!
He took our sicknesses away,
and carried our diseases for us.

Gospel Mark 5:21-43 ©
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
  Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’
  While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

5 posted on 02/04/2013 11:02:43 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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