Reflection for Sunday – June 30, 2024

Readings: Wisdom 1: 13-15, 2:  23-24; 2 Corinthians 8: 7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5: 21-43 
Preacher: Sister Karen Dietz

Mass shootings, climate anomalies wreaking havoc, refugees clamoring at our borders, wars in too many lands to track, shootings, homelessness, and so much more. These are the daily realities that confront us each time we read or watch the news. The value of every living thing is diminished moment by moment.  

In my work at a senior living facility, I have had the privilege of sitting with an elder and their friends or family as they take their last breath. Being with loved ones as they make the difficult decisions necessary to ease their parent’s, sibling’s, friend’s final journey to God is a sacred time of reverencing their lives and ushering them to the fullness of life. Likewise, in my work at a women’s homeless shelter I have been humbled by the women who struggle to engage the systems necessary to give them the assistance they need to find safe and adequate housing for themselves and often their children. I have listened to their stories of struggle and abuse and have watched in amazement as they also speak of hope and finding joy and embracing life.  

Today’s readings speak to me of God’s desire for life! The reading from the Book of Wisdom states clearly that God did not make death nor does God rejoice in destruction. The second reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians reminds us that our abundance is to be shared with those in need so that all may thrive. And in the Gospel of Mark we have two wonderful healing stories: the woman with the hemorrhage and Jairus’ daughter being raised. As I roll these readings around in my heart, I am challenged and encouraged to be about bringing life to the world I live in.  

What does this look like? How do you imagine a culture of life? This is not all about being pro-life, pro-choice, etc. This is so much more. The scriptures today present me with a challenge to be more conscious of my words and action for the sake of life in all its forms. 

Jesus knows that someone has reached out to him, touched his garment in search of healing. He demands to know who it was, not so that he can reprimand her, but so that he might look her in the eyes and embrace her and raise her up. He did much the same for Jairus’ daughter. Jesus’ work was all about restoring life whether it be restoring someone to health or forgiving someone’s sins. He was offering another way—a way of living life more fully.  

St. Paul speaks of one of my favorite themes, the idea that no one should be hungry or burdened in any way. Rather those of us who have more than we need are called to share what we have so that all may have a full life. This idea of “fullness” is important. I believe all living beings are created to thrive, not simply to exist. This flies in the face of our culture of accumulation and wealth. We work hard for our security, often forgetting or ignoring our responsibility to preserve life. For some, working on a single issue like being against abortion or doing your part with recycling feels like enough. And yet, we are called to so much more. 

As believers we are called to live as Jesus did. We need to be about promoting healing and wholeness in every area of sphere of influence. These readings are not comfortable, light summer reading. As I read them, I sense a challenge to so many aspects of my life. What am I doing to care without judgment for those I work with? How do I enable the women at the shelter to live their best life? As a woman of influence, what am I doing to challenge the structures in our city that shame these women? What can I do to raise awareness of the housing crisis? Can I take more time to listen to the mothers who fear for their children’s safety each time they leave the house? 

These questions can be asked of each of us in our own circle. How are we caring for the earth? Do we understand giving to others in terms of truly sharing from our abundance or do we simply Venmo a donation and move on? All the struggles in our world today are struggles of life and death. Our God is a God of the living, not the dead. As disciples, we too need to be ambassadors for life—not simply survival, but life to the full. 

Sr. Karen Dietz, SSJ
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