ColumnsNaming Grace

Desperate: 13th Sunday in ordinary time

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read of two individuals who are desperate: a father desperate for the life of his 12-year-old daughter and a woman desperate from suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years. The father was pleading and falling at the feet of Jesus on behalf of his daughter while the woman was grasping in desperation for the relief of her affliction. After reaching the limits of their resources and medical help, both, in faith, seek Jesus, the divine healer. Through a touch and a word, Jesus heals each.

Death and destruction are not from the Lord, for God is the author of life and made the human person imperishable. Death and destruction entered the world through Satan, while Jesus came into the world to bring healing, hope, freedom and life. Jesus desires for us to turn to him when we feel desperate — when it seems we have run out of hope and resources — to find strength, healing and new life. He asserts, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

I was about to take off for -Minnesota to help my daughter and son-in-law with their then-infant twin daughters when another daughter called in a panic: “Mom, I’m at Laura’s house with the twins because there is something desperately wrong with Freddy. When you get to Minneapolis, go straight to Children’s Hospital.” When I arrived, 3-year-old Freddy, diagnosed with myocarditis (which has a high mortality rate for infants and young children), was hooked up to tubes, sporting a PICC line and clinging to life. We called for a priest to anoint him; in faith, we prayed and pleaded to God for Freddy’s life. Thankfully, Freddy lived.

“Desperate” describes immigrant fathers and mothers whose children have been ripped from their arms as they seek asylum in our country. We can only imagine how their hearts are pleading for reunification with their children. Like the father in the Gospel, we can intercede on behalf of these families. Desperate for their children’s return, we can supply their needs through prayer, advocacy and resources (volunteer at the local level or donate to Catholic Charities, which advocates for immigrants).

We find ourselves in many situations that could leave one desperate: chronic pain, a deadly disease, a debilitating acci-dent, an untreatable mental illness or a lifelong addiction. But God comes to our rescue when all supplies have been exhausted — if we have faith. Jesus provides hope, healing of body and spirit, relief and energy. While we know even the most faithful Christians experience the death of loved ones and persistent suffering, we continue to trust Jesus’ faithfulness, “I say to you, arise!” Arise from your sorrow and despair. Arise, my son or daughter, and let me turn your death into new life, your mourning into dancing, your weeping into rejoicing.

As parents/grandparents, we name grace — God’s hope-filled presence — each time we address a child’s desperation, whether over sickness, bullying, the death of a loved one — including a pet, a betrayal of friendship, separation from a parent or a failure. We remind our children not to be afraid, even in the face of desperate situations, for Jesus is with them and wills their good. We remind them to call on the holy name of Jesus in seemingly desperate situations for Jesus will be present and will bring them hope and help. Now, that’s good news!

When has faith helped you through a seemingly desperate situation?

How will you help your child in dealing with desperate situations?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding parents in their vital task as “first preachers” of the good news in the domestic church — the church of the home.