FIRST READING Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.
SECOND READING 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also. For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.
GOSPEL Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
Death is not acceptable in so much of modern culture. Yet death comes in so many ways to all of us. The only death to fear is the death of the soul. God created us to live but death has come into the world. Physical death. Everyone seems to want to fight against physical death. For us who follow the Lord Jesus, physical death is the gateway to eternal life, to living with the Lord Jesus forever.
The first reading today is from the Book of Wisdom. Even in this book from the Old Testament we hear: “God formed man to be imperishable.” God wants us to live! Yet death came into our world. The Old Testament knows already that death is not the final answer to our human existence. Death is only final for those who belong to the company of the devil.
The second reading is from the Second Letter to the Corinthians. Saint Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to share what money they have with those who have less. This is another form of dying to oneself: recognizing that we can share what we have, even if we don’t have much. In much of modern culture today, the emphasis is on getting as much for oneself as is possible. This is another expression of the fear of death. We have a fear of not having all that we want. It is important to recognize that very often what we want and what we need are very different. We have to learn to die to ourselves in order to recognize this difference.
We are not invited to look at how others live, but at how we ourselves live. We are invited to see what we have that we could give away to help others who have less. Saint Augustine said already in early centuries of Christianity that we should strive to have less so that others can have more.
The Gospel from Saint Mark today returns us to the theme of physical death, but in two forms. The woman with the hemorrhages would have been cut out of normal society for all of the 12 years that she had suffered from the hemorrhages. Yet she felt somehow that if only she could touch the Lord Jesus, she could be healed and returned to life.
The daughter of the synagogue official really dies and those around her send a message to her father: don’t bother Jesus! Instead, Jesus knows what is happening and goes to the home and brings the young girl back to life, in spite of everyone doubting that it could happen.
Our challenge today is a simple question: Am I alive in Christ? Am I willing to share what I have with those who have less? Can I really believe that Jesus is the whole meaning of life?
Your brother in the Lord,