SUNDAY, THIRTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Wis 1:13-15,2:23-24; Ps 30:2,4-6,11-13; 2 Cor 8:7,9,13-15; Mk 5:21-43
WHO DO WE SEEK IN OUR ADVERSITIES?
The first reading from the book of Wisdom reminds us that we are made in God’s image. We are told that God made all things to live, yet we experience death presenting itself to us in various forms and ways. Death and destruction are surely not part of God’s plan. Each one of us may find ourselves caught up in a cosmic struggle between the forces of life and death. The good news is that God holds the ultimate power, and this is conveyed in the Gospel passage. When we believe that God is the giver and protector of life, then we will not fear death or destruction.
Today’s gospel text is of a typical ‘sandwich’ arrangement. It is a literary technique in which one Marcan (from Gospel of Mark) story is begun but is then interrupted by another. After the conclusion of this ‘inner’ narrative, the first narrative is rejoined and completed. The key is to take note of the meat in the centre of the sandwich arrangement.
Mark introduces the first incident with Jairus, a synagogue official, whose daughter was very ill and at the point of death. The passage is interrupted with the account of a woman with a long-suffering haemorrhage. It made her ritually unclean according to the Jewish Law (cf. Lev 15:25). She suffered from this ailment for twelve years and had spent all her money on doctors and treatments, but in vain. She had been told about Jesus’ power to heal and believed it: “If I just touch his clothes, I will get well”. Jesus took care of her physical health and her spiritual well-being. Her faith made her well and saved her.
Mark then continues with the incident of Jairus’ daughter. Jairus also placed his faith in Jesus. They received news that his daughter was at the point of death. Jesus must hurry if she was to be saved. However, he delayed, because he knew that God’s power would prevail over death. By the time they reached the house, the girl was dead. The Jewish mourning ceremony had already begun. Yet, Jesus, urging Jairus to have faith, brought the dead girl back to life. In both encounters, both the woman and Jairus sought Jesus in faith, and Jesus offers them the gift of life.
In the case of the woman with the flow of blood, though she was not dead, she had reached a stage where she was tempted to give up on life. Her last hope was the Lord. She was not disappointed. She received healing and life from Jesus. He sends her away in peace. After twelve years she can now return to her everyday normal relationships; but Jesus also establishes a new relationship. She has now become a member of the family of faith. The young girl brought back to life at the age of twelve can now look forward to a future with hope.
It is evident from the first reading and the Gospel, that God is the giver and protector of life, and has power over death (cf. Ez 37:1-14). Jesus, the son of God, proves that he shares in the power of the Father, by bringing the girl back to life with his authoritative word. Mark uses this text as a shadow of what is to come. Like Mark, we too believe in Jesus’ resurrection. As members of Christ’s Church, we too will be raised to a new kind of life and never die.
Membership in the kingdom of God continues beyond the grave. The text of today challenges us to look at our daily life situations from a new perspective. With the risen Jesus present in our lives, nothing is the same. Everything is different. Our faith grows when we are able to see the little miracles that happen in our daily lives. Do we recognize that God cares for us as much as he cared for Jairus’ daughter and the sick woman? Do we see God’s hand at work in our daily lives through new possibilities, new expectations? Do we hear his gentle command “Go in peace”?
Response: I will extol you, O Lord, for you have raised me up.
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