Thirteenth Sunday of the Year June 28, 2009

Wisdom 1:13-15;2:23-24; 2 Corinthians 8:7,9,13-15; Mark 5:21-43
Today’s readings invite us to reflect on how profoundly faith influences our view of the world and our actions. Creation is holy as the Wisdom writer suggests and that it is complete and wholesome. We have the God who is the giver of life. We are all created in the image of God and made him in his own image of eternity. We are in a constant relationship with a God of wonder who transforms us, heals us and removes our pains and transforms them into joy. He is a God of consolation. Thus we read in the Gospel the assuring words of Jesus, “do not be afraid, only believe.” A woman suffering from sickness hears the consoling words, “ your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Jesus tells us that faith is everything and it does things seemingly impossible. This faith in God and in Jesus is closely connected with holiness, relationship, healing and transformation. This faith challenges us to see every person and the works of God as precious. This faith enlivened by the Holy Spirit invites us to enter into the mission of Jesus and his kingdom. It is this very faith invites us to enter into a new world of the divine and to transform ourselves as persons of hope and the agents of change in the world. It is this faith which is our personal response to a God who continues to reveal himself to us and invites us to recognise his holiness and beauty.
The gospel consists of two related stories, with one inside the other, a typical feature of Mark. The miracles tell us of the generosity of Jesus. Jesus is approached by an official of the synagogue, called Jairus. His daughter is seriously ill and he wants Jesus to come and lay his hands on her “to make her better and save her life”. It was something unusual that a leader should ask this favour when much opposition was brooding around him. But Jesus who always to seeks to do good, sets out for Jairus’ house and is followed by a huge crowd of jostling people. Thus reaching out to the synagogue leader who had faith in Him, Jesus raised his twelve year old daughter back to life. As He had done with Lazarus, Jesus gave life to the little girl that had crossed over to death. Surely, if Jesus can raise the dead from the point of no return, the power is His to raise all the living dead and to grant eternal life in the Kingdom of God to those to who He chooses to do so.
In the Gospel we also heard how a woman was healed of twelve years of haemorrhages, simply by touching the clothes of the Lord Jesus. What faith she must have had! And her faith made her well, she being healed of her disease. Mark tells us that she suffered for twelve years before turning to Jesus. She had endured much under many physicians and obviously drained her of all her financial resources. Jesus was her last hope… her only hope. Nothing in the physical world could heal her… it took a miracle… a miracle of God. And the Son of God was there for her when she needed Him the most, after much suffering. Like many others, she had heard about Jesus and, moved by a deep faith in him, she believed that if she could just touch the hem of his cloak it would be enough for her to be healed. In fact, she does just that and she is healed instantly. Her faith and trust in the power of Jesus has healed her completely. The question she places before us is that how much more are we willing to suffer before we turn to God? How much are we willing to suffer before we place our complete faith in Jesus? Our gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of God is rooted in Jesus Christ.
We are also surprised at the dramatic episode with Jesus. Mark tells us that Jesus turned round and asked: “Who touched my clothes?” He knew that power had gone out from him. At the same time hundreds of people were around him, trying to listen to him. The question of Jesus makes the woman to come forward to make a public confession about her behaviour and of being healed. She was afraid because she should not have been there at all. And that is why she had not approached him openly in the first place. Her bleeding problem made her unclean and, if the people around had known about it, she would have been in deep trouble. For all purposes she was an outcast person. Now Jesus performs a great miracle. He restores her to normal life in society. There is no anger or indignation on his part. “My daughter,” he says kindly, “your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint”. Her faith had healed her to the full.
Coming back to the first story, it is equally important. back to our first story. Jairus is told by now that his daughter has died and that there is no need to bother Jesus any further. Jesus may be a healer but not the to bring a dead person back to life. But Jesus gives them the assurance. He says “Do not be Afraid,” a word used more than 350 times in the Bible. Jesus goes into the house with just the parents and his three close companions. He takes the girl by the hands and tells her: “Little girl, I tell you to get up.” And the 12-year-old girl immediately got up and walked around quite normally, as if nothing had been wrong with her. Those words “get up” have overtones of resurrection, the “getting up” of Jesus from his own tomb. He is the one who controls life and has power over death. He restores her to the parents and asks them to total care starting from food. Both of these stories, with one, as it were, enfolded in the other reveal Jesus as the source of life and healing.
The First Reading from the Book of Wisdom tells us, “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal.” Further we all know that the kind God takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living. He loves them all. The Book of Genesis tells us that God created everything that is good. In fact the word good is repeated seven times. God created us for incorruption and made us in His own image so we may inherit His Kingdom. If the wicked inherit spiritual death, it is because they invite it upon themselves. But man can avoid spiritual death, as he is being called to inherit the Kingdom of God. This kingdom becomes alive for us in Jesus. The author says that the righteousness that we receive from God itself is immortal.
St Paul in the Second Reading reminds the Corinthians how Jesus, rich though he was became poor for our sake, to make them all rich out of his poverty. Naked and destitute on the cross he poured out his love on us. He even gave his life that we might have life. And because of that he, too, lives forever. And we have been immeasurable enriched. Paul gives that as a model for the way that the Corinthians should share whatever they can spare for their poorer brothers in other churches. Interestingly, he says that in sharing with others we are not expected to give away what we genuinely need ourselves but only from our surplus. And, when I share my surplus today with someone in greater need, I myself can hope to be treated in the same way in my own hour of need. Part of our healing is in the wholeness of our communities, a wholeness which is based on truth, love, compassion and a deep sense of justice for all. And this, too, is holiness, because God is an integral part of the wholeness. He is recognised as the Creator, the Conserver and the Final Goal of all that I am and can be, of all that we are and can be. Let us pray today to Jesus as Lord of life and ask him to help us reach that level of health, wholeness and holiness to which he is calling us.


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