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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Liberty and freedom are words that that carry significant meaning. In the past year and a half we've seen those words bandied about in a myriad of contexts. Across the world young and old, men and women, have all used those two words to talk about their hopes and desires for their countries. In the United States, bishops speak about liberty in reference to the right to be free from government regulations in the practice of one's faith. In other countries, the words are often used in an economic context, while having little to do with other aspects of society, especially as far as politics is concerned.

While freedom may be a concept debated by officials, for many individuals it is a concrete desire. For some people, freedom comes down to the very practical day-to-day experiences of being free from hunger, being free from oppressive labor conditions, or being free from illness. The woman with the hemorrhages in this weekend's Gospel was longing to be freed from her illness, something that she had endured for a dozen years. Freedom, for her, meant that she would no longer carry the burden of a debilitating sickness.

A quick review of our country's involvement in the events of the Spring show just how difficult it is to have any effect on the liberty of another if we are not the proximate oppressor. In the same way, we cannot easily remove the burdens of illness, homelessness, or unemployment from those around us who may suffer from these troubles. What we can do is stand with them, and offer them our support and love.

In the Gospel, people from the synagogue official's house told him to give up on a cure because his daughter was dead. But Jesus told him, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." Those are words that we can use as well, as long as we are willing to support and console those who are held bound by suffering.


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