The poor person fully alive

The glory of God is the human person fully alive…
St. Irenaeus

The glory of God is the poor person fully alive.
Blessed Monseñor Oscar Romero

About seven weeks before he was martyred in the chapel of a hospital for poor cancer patients in San Salvador, Monseñor Romero received an honorary degree from Louvain in Belgium.

His speech is an astute explication of the ministry of the Archdiocese of San Salvador. At the end of his remarks, he notesd:

Early Christians used to say Gloria Dei, vivens homo (“the glory of God is the living person”). We could make this more concrete by saying Gloria Dei, vivens Pauper (“the glory of God is the living poor person”).

Today is the feast day of the second century bishop of Lyons, Saint Irenaeus, who wrote:

The glory of God is the living human person, for humanity’s true life is the vision of God.

As I was preparing to lead a Celebration of the Word in the village of Joyas Galanas this morning, I found myself reflecting on these quotes in light of today’s readings, especially the Gospel.

Mark 5: 21-43 tells of the healing of two very different women.

The leader of the synagogue, Jairus, comes to Jesus asking him to heal his dying daughter. He is a man with connections and power who seeks help for the life of his child.

On the way, an unnamed, unknown woman touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed. She has no power; in fact she is one of the despised. She is a woman; she has been hemorrhaging for twelve years and therefore was ritually impure; she is poor, having spent all her money on useless doctors. She is an outcast – but an outcast with faith.

Jesus seeks to know who touched him, who was healed. He restores her to the community and, as Gustavo Gutierrez noted, has rescued her from anonymity. And then he acknowledges her faith.

She is healed not only of her illness but also of the malady of isolation and marginalization. Indeed, Jesus addresses her as “daughter,” this woman who probably was cast aside by all too many people, maybe even her family.

But what happens next is instructive. Jairus is told that his daughter has died. Jesus tells him, “Do not fear. Just have faith.”

The woman with the flow of blood was praised for her faith, but the synagogue official has to be reminded to have faith!

Jesus then proceeds to heal the daughter of Jairus, taking the child by hand.

The glory of God was shown that day in Galilee – a child was restored to life and a poor sick woman was restored to health and to the life of the community. The woman recovered her dignity.

Thus we are called to choose life, to provide for the life of our sisters and brothers, especially the poorest, and to recognize the dignity of all persons.

We are called to live as Jesus did, even remembering the little details

Before leaving Jairus’ home, Jesus told them to give the child something to eat.

That’s the least we can do.

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