Home » Gospel Encouragement – 27th June 2021 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Encouragement – 27th June 2021 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers,

For want of a better phrase, what a great ‘Scriptural sandwich’ our Gospel gives us today.  One powerful account of Jesus’ healing power sandwiched between part one and part two of the story of his raising a young girl, Jairus’ daughter, from the dead, and both being living examples that God is the source of life, and not death, as the first reading highlights.

The story of the haemorrhaging woman is extremely dramatic.  For a woman to have a constant flow of blood – which it appears is what has been going on in her life for twelve years – made her ‘unclean’, an outcast from Jewish society according to the strict rules of the day.  This meant that she took a brave step in even being in the crowd, as they could have turned on her and ejected her from their midst.  Why would they do this?  Because to be touched by an unclean person made you unclean as well, a little like our own fear of touch transmitting Covid today.  Knowing all that, she reached out and touched Jesus’ garment.  And in acknowledging her, he dismissed such fears  as he did with lepers and so many others – and opened himself up to criticism for breaking these strict societal laws.  But her healing, the fruit of such a simple action, was so major that the law breaking involved seems to have gone unnoticed.  So much so, that even Jairus, whose daughter Jesus was on the way to see, continued to feel able to accompany him to his home.

And the young girl was twelve years old.  She had been alive for the same length of time that the woman had been suffering, but her short, final illness had led to her quick death, while the drawn-out illness of the woman inferred the inevitability of her death as well.   On the same day, Jesus restored life to both people in vastly different circumstances.  Whether death comes quickly or slowly, it shows us that Jesus has power over it.  This doesn’t suggest that we should pray not to die – even these two would have to die eventually – but it reveals that Jesus is God, as he defeats the death that they face.  And it also reveals the compassion of God, as he recognises the needs of them and their families and restores them in love.  It reveals that God lives by the truth that he tells us of himself in the first reading:

“Death was not God’s doing,

he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living.

To be – for this he created all;

the world’s created things have health in them,

in them no fatal poison can be found,

and Hades holds no power on earth;

for virtue is undying.

Yet God did make man imperishable,

he made him in the image of his own nature;

it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world,

as those who are his partners will discover.”

 

So, the Scriptures tell us that “It was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world.”  In the creation of humanity, the devil, a fallen angel, envied what he saw as a competitor among the things that God had created.  Where angels had been created to serve God, humanity had been made “in the image of his (God’s) nature”.  And so, the devil tempted humanity and we succumbed to the temptation, the consequence of which is death.  But when we stop and think about it, we can hopefully see that death, while in some ways a punishment, is so much more than that.  It’s a get out clause as well.  We tend to fear death, but in reality, if we didn’t have death to look forward to there would be no escape from a life in which we tend to struggle, regret and continue to succumb to temptation.  God always planned – and Jesus completed that plan in his death on the Cross – to use death as a way to leave all that behind, that we might live life beyond death in the complete opposite of the negative that we experience here: for struggle, peace; for regret, satisfaction and contentment; and for temptation, wisdom…and so much more!!!  And God also intended that the life that we live beyond death should be where the positives that we experience in this life are enhanced beyond what we able to even imagine: for love, a sense of harmony with everyone; for joy, a sense of unbounded happiness and fulfilment; and for hope, the sense of a promise fulfilled and all our dreams come true…and so much more!!!

In the healing of the haemorrhaging woman and the raising of Jairus’ daughter we are given a glimpse of what is to come.  They will die again, but what lies beyond, in the power of Jesus’ loving death and resurrection, is so much better and greater and more wonderful even than these.  Imagine the joy that they and their families felt on that day!  Well, in our eternal resurrection, beyond death, our joy will be magnified beyond our, and their, wildest dreams.

So, let’s pray for an ever-growing faith in this truth, and an emerging readiness to embrace death when it comes.

St Joseph, patron saint of a peaceful death, pray for us.

With every blessing,

Simon