Reflections

Tuesday of 4th Week of the Year, January 31, 2023

>>> St DON BOSCO – Pray for Us
IF I COULD TOUCH HIS GARMENT
Introduction
In the beginning of the 19th Century, social concern was almost inexistent and poverty considered an insoluble problem, with children as the great victims. Especially in cities they grew up in alleys and slums and roamed the streets. Turin had thousands of them. Don Bosco took the initiative to care for these neglected children and youth. His sensitive heart and his firm guidance could bring them together to give them shelter and an education. He understood them and made himself accepted by them. He had a hard time to change the mentality of politicians and Church leaders and to spur them to do something about the problem, but he succeeded little by little. In all his difficulties he kept his good cheer.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
with you and with your Son Jesus
Don Bosco loved the young
and dedicated his life and that of his Congregation
to their education and care.
Dispose your Church and its leaders
and also all parents,
to pay very much attention
to the formation and development of the young,
who are our hope for the future.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen!

1 Reading HEBREWS 12:1-4
Brothers and sisters: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

Responsorial PSALM 22:26b-27, 28 and 30, 31-32
R. (cf. 27b) They will praise you, Lord, who long for you.

I will fulfill my vows before those who fear him.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts be ever merry!” R.

All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
All the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.
To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth;
Before him shall bend
all who go down into the dust. R.

And to him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown. R.

Alleluia MATTHEW 8:17
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MARK 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him and a large crowd followed him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, Who touched me?” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Commentary
To touch the image of God.
John Bosco was born in 1815 in Northern Italy. As a boy, John dreamed that he stood in a crowd of children who were fighting and cussing and he was failing to quiet them. A mysterious lady appeared and told him, “You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness. Take your shepherd’s staff and lead them to pasture.” As he matured, he chose to become a priest to minister to the poor and neglected boys who lived in Turin, Italy. He opened several centres where young people could come to play and pray.
He founded an order of priests to assist in this work with children. He named it the Salesians, after his favorite saint, St. Francis de Sales, and founded another order of women to work with girls, called the Daughters of Our Lady, Help of Christians. The Salesian family also includes a community of brothers. The work of these orders continues today.
Jesus was in the midst of the crowd. The word ‘crowd’ is used five times in this passage. Jesus was constantly among the people. While in their midst, Jesus asks, “Who touched me?” Jesus not only understands the crowd, but he also feels the crowd. He hears the heartbeats of each one. He cares for each one who stretches out to touch him, always!
A similar situation happens when the ruler of the Synagogue approaches Jesus to tell Him about his gravely ill little daughter. And He leaves everything else to attend to this one: he is accessible to the great and to the small!
What about these two women in the gospel passage? The first one has had blood loss for 12 years. According to the law, the flow of blood makes a person impure; she cannot generate life. The second woman – the young daughter of Jairus – is of marriageable age of 12. But in her, life is interrupted; she is dead. The number twelve in these two instances is not just a coincidence. It refers to the 12 tribes – the whole of Israel.
These women represent Israel. Israel, although the bride of the Lord, abandoned her husband and became impure. She cannot generate life. This woman comes across Jesus, believes in him, and says, ‘If I succeed, even to touch his mantle, I will be saved.” Only when she finds Christ and touches him – Israel falls into the hands of her husband – she is made pure, and she is saved.
The daughter of Jairus also refers to Israel. Israel, the bride of the Lord, is dying. But when the Lord, her groom, takes her by his hand and raises her, she comes alive.
In the Eucharist, we have the opportunity to touch him. In the lives of all the people around us, we have the chance to touch the image of God. To be saved, all we need to do is touch Him in the sacraments, in the Word of God and in the lives of people around us.

Intentions
– That the Church may continue with compassion Jesus’ healing ministry, that the sick may be comforted, the downtrodden set free, and the poor and the weak protected, we pray:
– That in this world of hunger for food and spiritual values, affluent Churches and nations may share generously with those who have less, we pray:
– That doctors and nurses and all others who care for the ill and the handicapped may have a great respect for life and be inspired in their task by the love of Christ, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, ever young,
with bread and wine we celebrate
how Jesus became one of us
and how he made himself little
to be close to us.
May we also learn from him
to become little and humble
to make ourselves available to children,
to understand and to love them,
and to help them grow up
to the full adulthood of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, we tend to come before you
with our human wisdom:
self-assured, sophisticated, world wise,
but Jesus made children the privileged symbol
of the truly adult disciple.
Let him give us the openness and receptivity
of children: humble, authentic,
and open to your love and gifts.
Let him make us mature in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!

Blessing
“Power had gone out from him,” says the Gospel today of Jesus. It was a power that healed and brought back to life. If we have power, may we use it always to raise people up, never to put them down. And may Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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