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Thirteenth Sunday – Year B – Ordinary Time
Readings: (Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mk 5:21-43)
Reading 1 (Wis 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.
Reading 2 (2 Cor 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 (Mk 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.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: God has power over all sufferings and death.
According to the Book of Genesis, God creates everything good and predestines for everything to remain; but human beings must face all kinds of sufferings and death. The question is put out: what is the cause of suffering and death? The Book of Genesis also reported the temptation and the falling of human beings in the Garden. Since human beings made a bad use of freedom to disobey God and obey the devil, sin and death came to the world and cause all kinds of damages on human beings.
Today readings center around God’s intention and power in creation and providence. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Wisdom confirmed that God creates everything good and desires for everything to remain; but the devil tempted human beings and is the cause of suffering and death. In the second reading, St. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to help the church in Jerusalem to protect human life because a famine was happening there. Suffering can cause people to love and to do good deeds for those who suffer. In the Gospel, Jesus showed he had total power on suffering and death through his healing of the hemorrhaged woman and raising of Jairus’ daughter from the death.
1/ Reading I: God creates human beings and predestines for them to live for ever.
1.1/ God wants human beings to be imperishable: The author of the Book of Wisdom depended on the Book of Genesis’ account of God’s creation of the world and human beings, clearly declared: “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 nether world on earth.”
1.2/ The reason for human death: The author realized the reality of death and looked for its cause because God didn’t create it. He found out the cause, “But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.”
The Book of Genesis reported in details the devil’s temptation and the human falling in the Garden. This is the main cause of sin and death. The Book of Genesis also reported the spread of human sins. For examples, Cain killed Abel, his brother; the Great Flood was the result of too many human sins against God; the building of the Babel tower is one of examples of human ambition against God. He must scatter them out by confusing of their language, etc.
The sting of sins isn’t only dwelling and spreading in human beings but also affecting all of God’s creatures. Before human falling in the Garden, animals lived with human beings; after the falling, they ran far away from them. The venom of snakes or scorpions, the violent reaction of wild animals, the catastrophes, such as: earthquakes, hurricanes, or vocanoes, etc., are results of human sins.
2/ Reading II: The faithful must have charity.
The background of the second reading was that St. Paul wanted to organize a collection to help the faithful in Jerusalem who were suffered a great famine. He wanted the Corinthians to understand why they should contribute. He wanted them to generously help the faithful in dire need.
2.1/ We must help people in need: He gave them at least two reasons for contribution:
(1) If we receive in gratuity, we must freely give: St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Now 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.” He wanted the faithful to know that he sacrificed greatly of his time, talent, and health to help the Corinthian faithful to have faith and knowledge about God. They received freely from him, now they must freely make a financial contribution for the church of Jerusalem.
(2) To imitate Christ: Paul said, “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” For example, Christ chose to be a human being to suffer so that he can bring salvation to men. Only this saving act alone, even a person sacrifices all what he has, doesn’t correspondingly compensate. There are still many more graces which Christ brings to men through his death.
2.2/ If we help people, they shall help us when we are in need: The selfish people shall have many reasons to deny making contributions, such as: they must have money to buy this; they need to have that; they must save money for their children’s education; they must save for their retirement or in time of sickness, etc. St. Paul knew of all these when he explained: “Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equalityyour surplus at the present time should supply their needs, so that their surplus 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.””
History keeps repeating, no one shall be happy or miserable for ever. The April 30, 1975 event of Vietnam is a typical example. The whole world was touched by the sufferings of the boat people who must risk their life in small fishing boats to look for future, so that they made contribution to help us to have food to eat, houses to live and to settle in a third country. Now, most of us has been settled, we have an obligation to pay back by helping to develop the country we are living, to help the poor, the new immigrants, the victims of catastrophes, etc. To ignore these people’s needs is to be ingratitude with God and our benefactors. Moreover, our life isn’t ended yet; all sufferings can happen to us, who shall help us when we are in need?
3/ Gospel: Jesus had total power on suffering and death.
3.1/ Christ raised Jairus’ daughter from death: Mark reported the miracle in which Jesus healed the hemorrhaged woman between the raising of Jairus’ daughter to highlight the fact that Jesus had total power over human suffering and death. We shall analyze the three reactions in each event.
(1) Jairus’ reaction: His faith was expressed through the act that he felt at Jesus’ 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.” Jairus was the synagogue official and publicly stooped down at the preacher’s feet whom the Pharisees and the scribes disrespected, he expressed his strong faith in Jesus. Seeing his faith for him and his love for his daughter, Jesus agreed to follow him home to heal his daughter.
(2) Jesus’ reaction: He wanted Jairus continued to believe when he received the news from his household that his daughter was death, by saying to him, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” To teach his disciples to always believe and to have courage in facing death, Jesus brought with him only Peter, James and John; together with the daughter’s parent to her bed. He held her hand and commanded “Talitha qum,” 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.
(3) Others’ reaction: They didn’t believe that Jesus had power to raise the death; therefore, some of Jairus’ friends came to him and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” When Jesus approached the house, 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.
3.2/ Christ healed the hemmorrhaged woman:
(1) The hemmorrhaged woman’s reaction: She certainly heard about Jesus’ power to heal and this was an opportunity for her to ask Jesus for healing. Why didn’t she have courage to ask for healing instead of touching his cloak? There are at least two reasons which prevented her to do so. First, this is a woman disease; she might feel shy to speak of her disease before the crowd. Moreover, she might also wanted for Jesus to avoid of unclean because the law prohibit to touch people who have such a disease. Second, Jesus was busy on the way to heal Jairus’ daughter, and a throng of crowd followed him; how could a weak woman like her compete against them? Therefore, she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”With such faith, she touched Jesus’ cloak, and immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
(2) Jesus’ reaction: Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” And he looked around to see who had done it. This is the time of connection between the believer and the believed. Like in love, two persons who are in love don’t need to talk; there is only an act from one of them, they understand right away the love which the actor has for the acted. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
This passage should help us to have a firm faith in God when we have either a spiritual or physical disease. God understands the strength of our faith and He shall give necessary grace to heal us. He also understands all secrets of our soul; therefore, we should confess them and not hide of anything. We shall have a true peace by doing so.
(3) The disciples’ reaction: The disciples used human thinking when they said to Jesus: “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” The disciples didn’t understand what happened in the area of faith. Jesus’ reaction today should teach us to be careful when we deal with spiritual things. We shouldn’t use human wisdom to judge what belongs to spititual things; but must be humble and use faith to understand what belong to God and to judge others.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must know that God has total power on suffering and death.
– We must co-operate with God in protecting life and destroying death.
– Suffering can cause people to love and to do good deeds for those who suffer.