(A biblical reflection on THE THIRTEENTH ORDINARY SUNDAY [Year B] – 27 June 2021)
Gospel Reading: Mark 5:21-43
First Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalms: Psalm 30:2,4-6,11-13; Second Reading: 2Corinthians 8:7,9,13-15
The Scripture Text
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about Him; and He was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” And He went with him.
And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If I touch even His garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone forth from Him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched Me?” And He looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith had made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, He saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when He had entered, He said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at Him. But He put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with Him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand He said to her, “Talitha cumi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were overcome with amazement. And He strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:21-43 RSV)
Our readings today confront some of our most basic fears: fear of death, fear of poverty. All animals die. Man is the only animal who knows he is going to die. We must make sense of temporality and finitude. There will come a time when we will cease to be. The world will continue; we will not. To find meaning in our life in the face of death we must ask: Why are we born to die? Why does God bring us into existence if only to let us perish? As soon as we are old enough to breathe, we are old enough to die! As someone once said – they make coffins for babies!
Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom offers us some sobering thoughts. Our Gospel reading offers the example of Jesus. The Book of Wisdom teaches that God did not create death. God made the human person imperishable, in the divine image. The good creation of God was originally free of death and destruction. However, the devil was jealous and sought to destroy all that God had made. Out of envy, he brought death into the world. The human person turned away from God. The tragic result was the Fall. We live in fear and insecurity. Sin alienates us from God, self, others and creation. Is there any hope of reconciliation and new life?
Our Gospel reading contains the words of Jesus: “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.” Death comes through the devil and sin. However, God will not allow these to have the final word. Fear will be replaced by courage; death with the hope of eternal life. Jesus comes as God’s reconciling, life-giving Word. Yes, death is real. The pain of death is great. However, in the final analysis it is light, life, hope and grace which will win out. In the short run the forces of death and darkness are operative. We are afraid. Yet, fear is not the proper response for the Christian. We must trust in the power of Jesus who said to the little daughter of Jairus, “Little girl. I say to you, raise.”
In addition to the fear of death, we are afraid that we will not have enough in order to live well. We worry about our daily bread. But is really our daily bread that concerns us? Is it not often our future bread? Will we have enough for tomorrow? But how much is enough? Too often, the answer is: “There is never enough.” Our fear and insecurity cause us to run after and grasp more that we need for our daily bread. We begin to live by our greeds. We build up a surplus which denies others what they need. Should we plan for tomorrow? Prudence counsels yes. However, there is a “right measure” in terms of what we store up.
Trust must be at work when we think about tomorrow’s daily bread. If we really trust in God’s providence, all fear is driven out The God who cared for us today will do so tomorrow. The daily bread of today will be the daily bread for tomorrow, until we come into the banquet hall prepared by Jesus. Then death will be no more. We shall see Him as He is. And God’s love will drive all fear from our hearts. Then we shall know a peace beyond all understanding. And it will be ours forever.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I trust in You. Have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.
Jakarta, 26 June 2021
A Christian Pilgrim