Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Thursday, 4 July 2024
Meditation of Cardinal Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: XIV Sunday of ordinary time

His Beatitude Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem :

Following is the text of meditation by Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: The 14th Sunday of ordinary time, dated July 7, 2024:


Last Sunday's Gospel (Mark 5:21-43) helped us reflect on a very important aspect of our faith: where human religiosity, with its laws and customs, had created distance and separation from God. On the contrary, Jesus brought openness and closeness.


We witnessed the story of two women who, in different ways, because of the purity laws could not come into contact with the Lord Jesus.


The woman with the issue of blood was considered unclean and therefore untouchable: whoever touched her became unclean in turn.


Likewise, for the body of a dead person, such as that of Jairus' daughter: those who came in contact with it, had to undergo various purification rites.


This whole complex world of separations, on the one hand, governed the relationship with God: It was clear what could be done and what could not. However, it did not solve the issue of pain experienced by those living in "abnormal" situations. The only solution was for them to be excluded from the community.


Jesus does not allow Himself to be imprisoned by this relationship between God and men: for Him at the center is always the individual along with his pain or her pain. No one is ever excluded from encountering Him, no one should be considered unworthy to meet Him. On the contrary, those in pain need His presence the most: it is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. (Matthew 9-12) That is why he allows himself to be touched, and he in turn reaches out to touch others. (Mark 5:27, 41)


This lengthy introduction helps us to step into today's Gospel. (Mark 6:1-6)


Together with His disciples, Jesus returns to his hometown. (Mark 6:1) There He finds His people, His family, those who, more than anyone else, had experienced closeness and proximity with Him.


Well, right there, where everyone knows Him, He is not welcomed to the point that Jesus cannot perform any but a few healings in their midst (Mark 6:5): The place of utmost closeness becomes the place of maximum distance.


Perhaps the key word for understanding this phenomenon is the word "faith."


Last Sunday this word returned twice (Mark 5:34, 36): The hemorrhaging woman and Jairus had experienced salvation because they believed.


What is missing in Jesus' homeland is precisely faith: this word returns only once, in the end, but in a negative sense: Jesus marvels at their unbelief, their lack of faith. (Mark 6:6)


Those who had thus been closest to Jesus find themselves furthest away.


Jesus is a cause of scandal for them (Mark 6:3) because he doesn’t fit into their preconceptions, their schemes, and what they have always believed and thought. 


He is cause for scandal because they are unable to comprehend together the extraordinary nature they witnessed of Jesus and what they have gotten used to seeing.


After all, they are children of a way of thinking that separates, divides, and excludes.


But unlike the women with the hemorrhoids and Jairus' daughter, they look fine, they do not know that they are sick: this is their tragedy.


Because the most serious illness is precisely theirs, namely the lack of faith, which leads them to literal isolation, a closing off themselves within the narrow spaces of their own territory, their way of thinking.


Faith, on the other hand, is just the opposite: it is opening one’s life to something unprecedented, to a paradox, to something that surpasses us and, for that very reason, one can affirm that the Lord’s presence is indeed in our midst.


For this reason, faith is always a risk: it asks to let oneself be redefined by the encounter one has experienced, not to cling to what one already knows. 


It is always a crossing to the other shore (Mark 5:1, 21): If one always remains on the same side, one's relationship with the Lord never grows.