Scripture Readings, June 30, 2024

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24

Psalms 30:2, 4-6, 11-13

2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15

Mark 5:21-43

“A large crowd followed (Jesus) and pressed upon him.” (Mark 5:24)

Over the past week, this verse of Scripture played out quite literally in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as the Marian Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage made its way through more than 60 of our parishes and shrines in cities, towns and villages stretching from Mount Calvary in the north to Kenosha in the south. As it did for the two “daughters” in this week’s Gospel (cf. Mark 5:23, 34), “power went forth from (Jesus)” (Mark 5:30) to heal, strengthen and revive our local church and communities as he passed through our midst.

I had the grace of walking the whole pilgrimage through our archdiocese as chaplain to the six “Perpetual Pilgrims” who are walking all the way from the Mississippi headwaters to Indianapolis as this Marian Route and three others coming from our nation’s three coasts converge upon the historic National Eucharistic Congress that will take place July 17-21.

It has been nothing short of breathtaking.

From the rural parish that ran out to greet us both with streamers and with streams of tears at the impact the procession’s arrival had on them to the Croatian parish that spread a panoply of their best ethnic dishes before us with brimming pride to the Hispanic parishes that sang their hearts out every inch of every route to the religious sisters who ran out to meet us with lighted lamps and gleaming faces as we approached their convent grounds toward dusk (cf. Matthew 25:1-13) to the Traditional Latin Mass community that sprang from their sacristy with an army of altar servers all lined up in love of our Lord to the Franciscan parish that saw nothing strange about greeting our Lord humbly in the parking lot outside of their basilica to facilitate the accustomed routines of weekly parish life, each stop in its own beautiful way gave magnificent expression to the true catholicity — the universality — of our faith, diverse as the spices in a well-stocked kitchen, and yet united as one in the Body of Christ, made truly and substantially present to us, body, blood, soul and divinity in the sacrament of the Eucharist. (cf. CCC 1374)

I was not quite sure what to expect as I prepared for this pilgrimage. I knew it would be physically demanding and logistically complex. What I did not foresee was what a tangible experience of Matthew 9:35 it would be: “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity.” Parishioners returning to the sacrament of confession after decades away due to past hurts, doubts or fears; bystanders asking what all the fuss was about and being moved by our claim of Jesus’ True Presence in our midst and our Church’s prayer for unity and peace in our nation; the gift of tears poured out during Eucharistic Adoration healing interior places in people’s souls that only they and our Lord will know — and then retrieving the monstrance from the altar, and pressing forward to the next stop. “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:38)

According to the Catechism, we believe that “Sacraments are ‘powers that come forth’ from the Body of Christ, (cf. Luke 5:17; 6:19; 8:46) which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are ‘the masterworks of God’ in the new and everlasting covenant.” Those who do not believe this simply have not yet experienced what the sacramental life of the Church is all about. They have not yet encountered our Lord in the midst of his Church. He is alive. He is real. He is ever-living and life-giving. He is as present today as he was 2,000 years ago, when power went forth from the tassels of his robe to heal the hemorrhaging woman, and from his words to heal the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official.

And the beauty is that rich or poor, elaborate or simple, his power pours forth in equal measure from every altar of every parish in the world. As St. Paul articulates to the Corinthians in our second reading this week, calling on the image of the manna given to God’s people in the wilderness, “Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.” (2 Corinthians 8:15; Exodus 16:8) What matters is our faith in him and his power to save, his power to heal, his power to make all things new. (cf. Revelation 21:5) “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true,” said the one who is seated on the throne. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.” (Revelation 21:6)

That spring is the Eucharist. Let us drink deeply of its draughts.