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Sunday Scripture: The promise of Life

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June 29, 2012

By Terrance Callan

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43


We hate and fear death — our own and that of others — and we think about it as little as possible. We were made for life, not death. In its depths our very being rebels against the prospect of death.


The reading from the Book of Wisdom describes the origin of death. It says, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” When God created the universe, death was not part of that creation. “God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” Death came into the world “by the envy of the devil.”


The writer of the Book of Wisdom is thinking of the story told in Genesis 2-3. According to this story God told the first human being that to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death. But the serpent tempted the woman to eat the fruit of the tree, and she gave some to her husband. Because of this God said to the man, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” If the first human beings had not eaten the fruit of the tree, they would not have died.


The reading from the Gospel according to Mark shows that Jesus came to save us from death. The reading tells the story of two miracles worked by Jesus. A synagogue official named Jairus asked Jesus to come and cure his daughter who was very ill. As Jesus went to do what Jairus asked, a woman who had been afflicted with a hemorrhage for a dozen years, touched Jesus’ cloak hoping to be healed. She was healed and Jesus told her that her faith had cured her.


Before Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, He received word that Jairus’ daughter had died.  Nevertheless, Jesus proceeded to Jairus’ house. There He told the mourners, “The child is not dead but asleep.” They ridiculed Him, and He put them out of the house. Having entered the room where the child lay, Jesus took her hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you arise!” She got up immediately and began to walk around. Her family was amazed, and Jesus told them not to let anyone know about the miracle.


Jesus’ restoration of Jairus’ daughter to life is a sign that Jesus will overcome death for all people. It is only a sign because many other people died during Jesus’ lifetime that He did not restore to life. And the daughter of Jairus died again after Jesus restored her to life. But the miracle indicates that the ultimate accomplishment of Jesus is to overcome death for all, reversing the consequences of the disobedience of the first human beings  After He restored the daughter of Jairus to life, Jesus told them not to tell anyone about it. But we have heard about it and know that Jesus will overcome death.


St. Paul alludes to Jesus’ conquest of death in the reading from his Second Letter to the Corinthians. He says of Jesus, “for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” Jesus made himself poor most of all by dying on the cross, so that we might become rich, i.e., free from death. Jesus overcame our death by His own dying. Paul here speaks of this in terms of wealth and poverty because he is arguing that Jesus’ generosity to us should make Christians generous in giving money to those who need it.


Callan is a faculty member at the Athenaeum of Ohio 

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