Fr. Mike Lagrimas’ Homily for The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We Have The True Faith!

Mark 5:21-43

Here is a story I gathered from the Internet. This happened during a graduation ceremony
on May 20, 2001 at the Washington Community High School, in Washington, Illinois. (cf.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/sneeze.asp).

“They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-two students filing into the already crowded
auditorium. With their rich maroon gowns flowing … and the traditional caps, they looked
almost as grown up as they felt. Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and Moms
freely brushed away tears.

This graduating class would NOT pray during the commencements – not by choice, but
because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it. The principal and several students were
careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and
challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for
blessings on the graduates or their families. The speeches were nice, but they were
routine…..until that final speech that received a standing ovation.

A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just
a moment, and then, it happened. All 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly
SNEEZED!! The student on stage simply looked at the audience and said, “GOD BLESS
YOU, each and every one of you!” And he walked off stage. The audience exploded into
applause. This graduating class had found a unique way to invoke God’s blessing on their
future with or without the court’s approval.”

For me, this is the best valedictory speech: “God bless you!”

Nowadays, we see various systematic and concerted efforts from secular society to erase
God from the lives of the people. Secular governments all over the world, the United States
for one, are becoming more and more bold in their attempts to put God away from public
life and curtail religious freedom. It is a blatant and deliberate attempt to take away the
Christian faith from us. We have to be very vigilant. Faith is a gift from God, and it could be
totally lost. Losing our faith is very disastrous to our soul.

In our relationship with God, there are three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. St.
Paul said that these are the three things that last. And the greatest among them is love. St.
Thomas Aquinas added some qualification to that statement. He said that in the order of
dignity, it is true that love is the greatest. But how can we love God when we do not know
Him? There is a philosophical principle in Latin: “Nil volitum, nisi praecognitum.” Nothing
is desired unless it is known beforehand. It is faith that helps us to know God. And we can
love God only if we know Him. So, in the order of knowledge, faith comes first. Losing our
faith, therefore, means to lose our means to know God, making it impossible to love Him.

The Gospel this Sunday gives us the story about two miracles done by Jesus: the healing of
a woman who was hemorrhaging for twelve years, and the raising back to life of a twelve-
year old girl, the daughter of Jairus.

There are two things we need to mention. First is the detail on the number twelve. This
number represents the twelve tribes of Israel, the basis for the establishment of the Church

founded on the twelve apostles. In other words, these miracles done to these individuals
were symbolic of God’s saving work in the Church. The second is the preeminent role
of faith in the miraculous events. The woman touched the garment of Jesus, uttering to
herself: “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” And in the second instance, Jesus made
sure Jairus had faith in him: “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.”

It is faith that moves the hand of God to do wondrous deeds. It is not the other way around.
Some people think that for them to have faith, they need to witness a miracle. “To see is
to believe”, they say. That is wrong. As the Gospels clearly illustrate, one has to have faith
first, and this faith will produce miracles: “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of
a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.’
Nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17:20).

Let us, therefore, examine our faith. Every Sunday at Mass we recite the Creed. It contains
all the most important and fundamental truths of our faith revealed to us by God. If we
believe in something, which is contrary to any of these truths, we are committing sin against
faith. It is truly important to know and study the doctrines of our faith as taught to us by
the Church. Knowing them, we must also adhere and hold on to them with firm belief and
conviction. And secondly, trusting more in one’s self, in other persons and things rather than
in God is definitely wrong. Trusting in our own intelligence and powers, or relying solely on
money or in other persons, totally disregarding God’s providence, are sins against faith. We
must trust in God over and above everything in this world.

We are truly blessed and fortunate that, despite our unworthiness, God granted us the
gift of faith. We are duty bound to protect and defend it, and to make sure it is nurtured
through study and prayer. And most importantly, God expects us to share our faith with
others. The more we share it, the stronger it becomes. In fact, these days call for a “new
evangelization.” Pope Benedict XVI explained that, “the term ‘new evangelization’ recalls
the need of a new way of evangelizing… in order to convince modern persons, who are
often distracted and insensitive. That is why the new evangelization must find ways to make
the proclamation of salvation more effective, the salvation without which life is contradictory
and lacking in what is essential.” (Address to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New

Evangelization, May 30, 2011).

As followers of Christ, it is our duty and our mission to share and spread our faith and
thereby fulfill his command: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every
creature” (Mk 16:15).

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Santa Lucia Parish
J.P. Rizal Street, Bgy. Sta. Lucia
Novaliches, Quezon City 1117

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