We here in North America are celebrating holidays of independence this coming week. Canada remembers its becoming a self-governing dominion and the United States of America recalls its declaring self-rule independence from Britain. These were both a long time ago and the years can dim the sense of excitement experienced before our times.
We prepare to celebrate our independence from the dominion of darkness and death. We celebrate in the Eucharist our freedom from the demands of our own self-ruling ourselves and others. Each nation has had to find its identity through many struggles. We recall the saving events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
We can pray these days with the little experiences of our being saved and healed from the deaths of our spirits. We can pray with the excitement of living as freed people of God’s family.
Any time we read from the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Scriptures, we listen softly and slowly to each word, as we would listen to a good poem. Many subjects are pondered in its pages of the sage’s thoughts. The writings relate life’s experiences to the designs of the creating God. There are few direct answers to many of life’s questions. There are provocative promptings to our coming personally to a more familiar relationship with this same God of mystery.
The question addressed in this section from which we hear today, from the Book of Wisdom, is about death and the presence of evil in the God-created world. It is difficult to find a satisfactory answer to our many questions in this tension between God’s creative love and the destructive works of evil. The opening verse is a strong statement which gets our attention, but heightens the tension, “If God is so good, why is there such suffering and death?” There are several “faith-statements” inserted, but no easy answers.
Envy is the work of the devil and it leads to death for those who experience its deadly fruit. The spirit of this reading rests on the belief that God creates good, Evil is envious of that goodness and those who live in that tension between gratitude and envy make a choice. God respects human freedom to make the decision for dependence and domination, or freedom and life.
The Gospel has two sections; a story within a story, but both sections form one strong statement. Jesus has the power to heal. We saw last week that Jesus had the power to calm the winds and the waves. The apostles came to Him in their desperate need. In this week’s Gospel reading, two persons come in similar conditions of fearful need. Jairus’s daughter is sick. While Jesus and the crowd are on their way to Jairus’ house, a woman who is ill and desperate for a cure reaches out to touch his clothing.
Jesus continues His walk to cure Jairus’ daughter, but on the journey a report arrives that she is already dead. Storms, illness, and now death have become the tension for His loving, calming touch. Despite the objections of the grieving crowd and the laughter of derision when He tells them that the girl is not dead, but sleeping, Jesus enters the house, prays a healing word, and announces His wish for her to “arise” which she does. These three scenes begin the long display within Mark’s Gospel, that Jesus is Lord of all creation and His dominion is for the living of life more freely as it was originally created.
Jairus is a synagogue official and he comes in his need from within the synagogue to reach out to Jesus. The woman has a hemorrhage which according to the Book of Leviticus,(15, 19-30) renders her impure ritually and relationally. Jesus meets them both and credits them for their faith in Him. All were “astounded” at the physical healing, but Jesus came to heal creation from the domination of evil in its deeper forms. Jesus is not a spectacle meant to astound, but bring about the “arise” from the inner pains of spirit and soul.
Jesus is our revolution, our declaration for independence from darkness, and domination from the purely physical. Our celebration of faith is the remembering who we are by His touch. His domination of us is freeing us to arise, live real lives, as the little girl did, by walking around again. We have our impurities, our deadlinesses and our faith in Him Who came to give His Life for us and to us.
He came to save us not to solve the very popular questions about our belief in a loving God when that very God allows bad things. We have the independence to be dominated by the natural desire and then demands to know. We do have the freedom to choose our dependencies and Jesus seems to be a healthy One.
“O bless the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Ps. 103, 1
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