June 27, 2021
by John Shea, S.J.
Creighton University's Biology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 98

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Mark 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

A Matter of the Heart: Prayer as Relationship

One of these readings is not like the others. Or is it? The first reading reminds us that God did not make death. Nor does God rejoice in death. Our God is a god of life, not death. Further, God created us to be imperishable. Only those who join the company of the devil experience death. So, when we choose God, we choose eternal life. When we turn away from God, we turn towards death.

This theme of life and death continues in the Gospel where Jesus raises a twelve-year-old girl from the dead. In doing so, Jesus establishes his identity as the son of God. Like God, Jesus has power over death.

So, our second reading stands out for not explicitly mentioning death. Instead, St. Paul focuses on poverty and on being poor: “for your sake [Jesus] became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

Yet is poverty so different from death? Is not death the ultimate form of poverty? Death strips us not only of our material possessions, but also of our relationships and of our own lives. In death, we leave behind not just our money and favorite foods, but also our friends and family.

St. Paul reminds us that Jesus became poor. In becoming human, Jesus became vulnerable to death. Jesus embraces the ultimate form of poverty. And Jesus’ action has ramifications for us. Jesus became poor so that we may become rich. St. Paul reminds us that we should imitate Jesus’ generosity by sharing our material goods with others. We should give from our abundance to provide for the needs of others.

Death may be the ultimate form of poverty, but so many people live in poverty. In her autobiography, American author Zora Neale Hurston, wrote, “There is something about poverty that smells like death.” Death and poverty are linked. None of us can raise the dead, but we can share our resources and talents with those in need. In this way, we can share in Jesus’ power over death.

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