The first reading from the Book of Wisdom touches clearly on the possibility of life after death, “Yet God did make man imperishable,” and includes the resurrection of bodies. The liturgy of this Sunday evokes this reality: “God is a God of the living and not of the dead”. Death and everything connected with it, are not something of Divine will and were not desired at the beginning of creation.
We live today in a culture of death. One of the paradoxes in our days is to cohabit simultaneously with the drama of death, ours and others’, and on the other hand, with the proliferation of baseless deaths: terrorism, suicides, abortion, euthanasia, which so often becomes sensational “marketing” for social media communication. This seems to show a certain relativizing of the absolute and inviolate value of human life itself. The readings today reply to these questions. Death was not God´s doing; he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living. To be – for this he created all. He made us in the image of his own nature. It was the devil´s envy that brought death into the world, as those who are his partners will discover.
“Our Saviour Jesus Christ abolished death, and he has proclaimed life through the Good News.” Today´s Gospel readings show Jesus combating death – Jairus´ daughter is raised to life.
The mission of Jesus is to penetrate the dark regions of death and to offer his life, his grace, his power to cure. The latter is shown to those who had faith in him: Jairus, who pleaded with Jesus to heal his daughter, and the woman who suffered many years from a haemorrhage. She was experiencing a ´living death´ as she was excluded from society and declared unclean by religious laws. She has heard about Jesus and has faith to believe that he can cure her. “If I just touch his clothing I shall get well.” Her touch of Jesus´ cloak conveys respect and awareness of who he is. Immediately her flow of blood dried up and the feeling that she was cured of her affliction ran through her whole body. Jesus was conscious at once that healing power had gone out from him, and he asks who touched his clothing. Touching is a decisive mark of Jesus´ interactions with people and the fact that Jesus has chosen to touch the unclean or they to touch him, as in this case, is explosive in a society that controls by the power to decide who can be touched and who is untouchable. In Mark´s Gospel there are many incidents of Jesus stretching out his hand to touch people. On other occasions he takes them by his hand. By touching the sick or unclean Jesus takes on their status, that is, he becomes ´unclean´, but the words and presence of Jesus have power to heal. Jesus asks who touched his clothes. Jesus wants to see the person and wants others to know that faith in him is necessary, especially his disciples who show their lack of understanding by their response: “You can see how this crowd is crowding around you and yet you say “who touched me?”. Fearful and trembling, the woman came forward and fell on her knees before Jesus and told him the whole truth. Jesus addresses her as “Daughter”, and tells her that her faith has cured her, to go in peace, and to be freed of her illness. This peace is Jesus´ further gift of a promise of a life lived more gracefully and abundantly in faith.
While Jesus was still speaking, some people from the house of Jairus. The synagogue official, came to tell him that his daughter had died and not to trouble the Master, Jesus, any further. (Jesus had set out to go to Jairus’ house at his pleading, to save his daughter who was seriously ill). Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid and to have faith. And when they arrive at the house Jesus speaks to those outside, those who do not believe and who ridicule him, to stop the noise of traditional mourning, He enters the place where the child lay, takes the child´s hand and raises her up. Again we see the power of the touch of Jesus. Today, our meeting with Jesus is in the sacraments, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist when Jesus touches us with His own body in Holy Communion. How much closer could be the touch of Jesus for us, when he gives us healing and life. It is necessary to go and meet Jesus, like Jairus and the woman, with faith and trust. The Gospel today invites us to live with hope and confidence in Jesus, in the certainty that in the presence of Jesus even death is only a sleeping which has the capacity to become a new vitality by the action and word of Jesus.
Sr. Aedris Coates OP