13th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Cycle B)

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

All Scripture passages are from the New American Bible unless designated NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), IBHE (Interlinear Bible Hebrew-English), IBGE (Interlinear Bible Greek-English), or LXX (Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation).  CCC designates a citation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The word LORD or GOD rendered in all capital letters is, in the Hebrew text, God's Divine Name YHWH (Yahweh).

God's divine plan for mankind is revealed in the two Testaments and that is why we reread and relive the events of salvation history contained in the Old and New Testaments in the Church's Liturgy.  The Catechism teaches that the Liturgy reveals the unfolding mystery of God's plan as we read the Old Testament in light of the New and the New Testament in light of the Old (CCC 1094-1095).

The Theme of this Sunday's Readings: Victory over Death and the Gift of Life
When God created man, he was created to be immortal—to live forever in fellowship with his Creator God.  God did not create death, as the First Reading tells us.  Death entered the world through the devil's envy and as a result of Adam and Eve's sin of rebellion (Wis 1:13; 2:23-24).  A consequence of our original parents' fall from grace was that man's immortal tie with God was broken.  His soul remained immortal but loss of divine grace meant that heaven was closed and all mankind became bound to suffer physical death (CCC 536).

In today's Gospel we read about Jesus' dominion over the forces of physical death as He calls a little girl who had died to arise and be restored to life and a woman to be restored to her community.  Jesus uses the same Greek word to command the child to "arise" (Mk 5:41) that will be used to describe His own Resurrection (Mk 16:6).  These two stories not only point to Jesus' authority and power as God's supreme prophet and divine Messiah, but point to the promise of that we will also be restored body and soul and raised from the dead when Christ returns to call all of the dead to "arise" in the Resurrection of the dead at His Second Advent (1 Thes 4:13-18).  It is as Jesus told Martha of Bethany when He said, "I AM the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." (Jn 11:25-26). 

It is in thanksgiving for the promise of this great gift that we sing as we do in today's Psalm: "I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me."  God has declared victory over death and has "brought us up from the netherworld," from "the pit" of death.  And as St. Paul writes in his Epistle to the Corinthians, we should offer thanksgiving to Christ Jesus for His victory over death and His gift of renewed life in the Sacrament of Baptism by imitating Him in our deeds of love and generosity to others.

The First Reading Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 ~ God created Man to be Immortal
13 God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.  14 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, 15 for justice is undying.  [...].  2:23 For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.  24 But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.

The inspired writer of the Book of Wisdom assures us that God did not create death; nor did God create evil.  Death is the absence of life in the same way that darkness is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat, and evil is the absence of God.  Evil does not exist unto itself.  It is just like darkness and cold; it is a word that was created to describe an absence of its opposite.  Evil is not like faith or love; these are the gifts of experiencing God.  Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart or an entity like Satan and his fallen angels stand in opposition to God.  It is like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light.

God is the author of life and He created all life to be good and wholesome (see the seven time repetition of the goodness of Creation in Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, and finally in 31 where the pronouncement is that Creation is "very good").  Man was created in the image of the holy and just God (Gen 1:27), and it was God's plan for man to live forever in justice and immortality in fellowship with his Creator-God.

Physical death came about as a result of the devil's envy of man's special place in God's Divine Plan.  In Greek "diabolos" (devil) means "accuser" and is the usual translation given for the Hebrew word "Satan."  In his malice Satan, in the form of a great serpent (Rev 12:9), tempted our first parents into the sin of rebellion against the sovereignty of God in eating from the forbidden tree in the garden Sanctuary of Eden.  The result of their sin was separation from divine fellowship and the loss of divine sonship in their loss of grace.  The result was that physical death became the symbol of spiritual death—the true death that is permanent separation from communion with God.  Their personal sin became the shared sin of mankind as human beings were thereafter imperfectly fathered in a state of sin that their offspring inherited which the Church calls "original sin" (CCC 400-1, 409, 399). 

St. John told us that Jesus came to undo the work of Satan and to remove man from the power of sin and death in restoring mankind to divine sonship and communion in the image and likeness of God the Father.  St. John wrote, Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning.  Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8-9).  It was in destroying the works of the devil that Christ has returned mankind to the state of divine grace and the promise of eternal life.

Responsorial Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13 ~ Eternal Gratitude
Response: "I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me."
2 I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.   [..]   4 O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld, you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
Response:
5 Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.  6 For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will.  At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.
Response:
11 Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me; O LORD, be my helper.  12 You changed my mourning into dancing; 13 O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
Response:

Psalm 30 is entitled in verse 1, "A psalm, a song for the dedication of the Temple.  Of David."  It is a classic example of a "Toda Psalm" (the Hebrew word toda means "thanksgiving") or by modern Biblical scholars a psalm of narrative or declarative praise.  Such a psalm typically reflects a situation in which the psalmist has passed through a dark period of crisis and now finds refuge and salvation in the Lord.  The psalmist credits the Lord God for his salvation and thus joyfully expresses praise to God for his deliverance.

In verse 2 the psalmist gives God the credit for delivering him from the power of his enemies and in verse 4 for saving him from the place to which all the dead are condemned, which he refers to as Sheol in the Hebrew text (Hades in the Greek).  Sheol is called the "grave" or the "netherworld" and is also called the "pit".  It was the fate of all who died a physical death, including both the righteous and the wicked, in the time prior to the Advent of the Messiah (see CCC 632-33). 

In verse 5 the psalmist calls for the covenant community to join him in praising God for his deliverance and bids the liturgical assembly to sing (zamar) and give thanks (yada) to God.  He testifies that God's anger expressed in temporal judgments is not forever, and repentance at nightfall leads to forgiveness and rejoicing in the dawn.

In the last part of our psalms reading, the psalmist returns to the topic of the reversal that God has accomplished for him.  He uses the poetic theme of polarities as he contrasts mourning (in Hebrew the word misped) with dancing.  The Hebrew word misped goes beyond the typical reflective state of mourning and implies external, ritual acts of mourning, like a dirge sung in a procession for the dead.  He confesses that God in His mercy has changed what could have been a dance of grief to a dance of praise (Ecc 3:4 pairs these same two words), and for this he forever gives God his thanks (verse 13). 

The words of this psalm can be put into the mouth of David's descendant and heir, Jesus the Davadic Messiah.  In His glorious resurrection, it is Jesus who thanks God the Father for not abandoning Him to Sheol, the abode of the dead into which Jesus descended after His physical death to redeem those imprisoned there (1 Pt 3:18-20; 4:6).  In this context, the psalm reveals its prophetic meaning in proclaiming what God did when he raised Jesus after he tasted death and what He will also do for us.  Reciting this psalm, we should rejoice as disciples of the Lord, as we acknowledge Jesus as our defender and Savior.  Even if we suffer, either because of sin in the world or because of persecution in defending Christ, we have confidence that our Lord will not abandon us to the grave.  Instead, our mourning will be turned into gladness when we enter into the heavenly Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

The Second Reading 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 ~ The Need for Charity
Brothers and sisters: 7 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. [..].  9 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.  [..].  13 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 14 also supply your needs, that there may be equity.  15 As it is written: "Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.

St. Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth, Greece, written from Macedonia about a year after his first letter, is letter of recommendation for Titus and an unnamed missionary companion.  Paul had apparently sent Titus (who has since arrived) to initiation some corrections as well as to encourage the community in faith and right teaching (8:6-7, 16-17).  Among other problems, there are apparently those who are in poverty within the community whose needs are not being met.  Paul begins by complimenting the faith community in verse 7 before reminding them of the sacrifice Jesus made for them in giving up His life on the altar of the Cross.  Paul reminds them that Christ stripped Himself of His divine glory and the privileges that were rightly His as God's divine Son so that He might share in our frail human lives, and in our sufferings and death so that through God's plan they might receive the gift of forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life (verse 9).  Paul asks, if Christ could make this great sacrifice of His life, can't they make the small sacrifice of some material blessings for the sake of others?

Then in verse 13, Paul introduces the principle of equality into the discussion.  The goal is not impoverishment or privation but the sharing of resources for the benefit of all.  In verse 15 Paul grounds his argument on the experience of the children of Israel when they gathered manna in the desert by quoting from Exodus 16:18.  Equality was achieved independently of personal success in gathering the resource of the manna by God who gave with an even hand according to their need: "Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less."  This is the same principle Paul wants the Corinthians to apply to their faith community. 

Today's Second Reading should cause us to reflect on our responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves.  We must resolve to share our resources with those in need as a demonstration of our obedience to the second greatest commandment (Mt 23:39), in gratitude for the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior on our behalf, and for the resulting temporal and eternal blessings we have received.

The Gospel of Mark 5:21-43 or 21-24, 35-43 ~ New Life in Christ
In Mark 5:21-43, we have two healing miracles told within one story.  To fully understand the deeper significance of the teaching, it is necessary to read the entire passage.  The stories of Jarius' daughter and the bleeding woman are intertwined for a reason.  Notice the significant repeats in the two stories that have been emphasized in our copy of the text in the words "daughter", "twelve years", "healed", and "faith". 

Mark 5:21-24 ~ Jairus' Daughter
21 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.  22 One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.  Seeing him he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death.  Please, come lay your hands on her that she may [be healed] get well and live."  24 He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.  [..] = literal translation, IBGE, vol. IV, page 107.

According to Matthew's Gospel, after His healing miracles on the opposite shore of the Galilee, Jesus crossed the lake and "came into his own town" (Mt 9:1), presumably to Capernaum, the headquarters of His ministry in the Galilee.  An official of the local Synagogue had faith that Jesus could heal his daughter.  He was a very important man in the community, but notice how reverently he approacheed Jesus in verses 22-23.

Seeing him he fell at his feet 23 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 asked Jesus to "lay your hands" on his daughter and Jesus agreed to accompany Jairus to his home.  The laying hands on someone who was sick by an agent of God was an act that reflected the belief that the power of God's spirit of healing could be transmitted by the power of touch (see 2 Kng 4:34).  The "laying on of hands" was a practice recorded in the Bible since the time of the ratification of the Sinai Covenant and signified a transfer of power in various ways; for example:

  1. In the essence of the offerer to the life of an animal offered in sacrifice (Lev 1:4).
  2. In communicating the power of a spiritual gift in the act of a blessing (Gen 48:13-14; Mt 19:13-15).
  3. In communicating the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17; 19:7).
  4. In the act of consecration to a theological or ecclesiastical office (Num 27:18; Dt 34:9; Acts 6:6; 1 Tim 5:22).
  5. In healings by Jesus and the Apostles (Mt 9:18; Mk 6:5; Lk 13:13; Acts 9:12, 17).
  6. In the selection of a substitute or successor (Num 8:10; 27:18; Dt 34:9).
  7. In sentencing a criminal to death (Lev 24:14).

Mark 5:25-34 ~ The Healing of Woman with the Hemorrhage
25 There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.  26 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.  27 She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  28 She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be [healed] cured."  29 Immediately her flow of blood dried up.  She felt in her body that she as healed of her affliction.  30 Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"  31 But his disciples said to him, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"  32 And he looked around to see who had done it.  33 The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling.  She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.  34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has [healed] saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."  [..] = literal translation, IBGE, vol. IV, page 108; "be healed" in 5:23 is the same word as in 5:28 and 5:33 in the Greek text).

While Jesus was on his way to the home of Jairus, a woman with a bleeding condition touched Hus garment in hopes of being healed.  The woman suffered from uncontrolled bleeding for 12 years (verse 25).  She had a condition that may have been caused by fibrous tumors in the uterus.  Such a condition of continuous bleeding would have had a significant impact her life since for 12 years she had been in a continual state of being ritually unclean.  Anything on which she sat or laid became unclean and anyone who touched her or her bed or garments became unclean.  Continuing in this state of ritual impurity, she could not attend her synagogue or Temple worship and her condition had an impact on her association with friends and family.  She would not have been able to even take her meals with them (see Lev 15:19-30).

When she grasped Jesus' cloak (probably grasping the tassel on the corner of His cloak as in Mk 6:56) in her desperation to receive a healing, He immediately felt the power go out of Him.  When He discovered who had touched Him, Jesus praised her faith, telling her "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace."  The question might be asked, if Jesus is God, why didn't He know who touched Him?  Of course He knew, but He asked the question knowing the answer in the same way God asked "Where are you?" when He confronted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:9) when God had demanded to know not where they were hiding but where Adam and Eve were in their relationship with Him, inviting them to come forward and confess their sins.  In this case, Jesus was asking the woman to confess her faith, her healing, and her gratitude so He could grant her His peace and forgiveness.  In addition, her public confession of healing would be an effective witness to others in bringing them to repentance and conversion.

Mark 5:35-43 ~ The Healing of Jairus' Daughter
35 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?"  36 Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus [immediately] said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid just have faith."  37 He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.  38 When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  39 So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping?  This child is not dead but asleep."  40 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.  41 He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"  42 The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.  At that they were utterly astounded.  43 He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

When someone from Jairus' house arrived to tell him his daughter had died, Jesus told Jairus to have faith.  This was the same word Jesus spoke to the woman with the hemorrhage of blood in verse 34.  Despite the fact that Jairus was told that His child is dead, there were past miracles that might have encouraged Jairus to have faith that Jesus could raise his daughter from the dead. The prophets Elijah and Elisha both raised children from the dead (1 Kng 17:17-24 and 2 Kng 4:18-37).

When Jesus arrived at Jairus' house, He only allowed Peter, James and John Zebedee and the child's parents to come into the child's room.  Counting the child, there were 7 people in the child's room.  7 is one of the "prefect" numbers and in Scripture, symbolizing perfection and fulfillment, especially spiritual perfection.  This is the first time Peter, James and John have been singled out to accompany Jesus.  They will also accompany Him when He ascends the Mt. of Transfiguration (Mk 9:2) and when He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest (Mk 14:33).

Jesus insisted in verse 39 that the child was not dead.  His statement that she was only "asleep" was a message of hope for the family.   Jesus' commanded, Talitha koum, in Aramaic, the common language of Jesus' time in Judea, which means "Little girl, arise!" Her "sleep" and "arising" will prefigure an even greater miracle in the future in His own Resurrection and the "sleep" of the faithful as they await the final bodily resurrection to come at the end of the age (see 1 Cor 15:51-56; 1 Thes 4:14-18).

In verse 43 Jesus gave the parents the very practical command to give the child something to eat.  He also told them not to share the true nature of the miracle.  Jesus asked for their silence because opposition to Him is continuing to grow and His mission to Israel is not yet completed; He needs more time before the climax of His mission.

The significance of the parallel stories of the official's daughter and the bleeding woman is that in both healings the woman and the girl are Biblical "types" of Israel.  Both are "daughters" of Israel.  Notice that Jesus calls the woman "daughter" and the child is the "daughter" of the Synagogue official.  The woman bled for 12 years and the girl was 12 years old.  12 is the symbolic number of Israel, a people who were the descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel.  Jesus healed the woman and raised the girl from the dead, just as He has come to "heal" Old Covenant Israel and to free the faithful from bondage to sin and death in calling them to "arise" to new life in a new and eternal covenant.

Jairus' Daughter The Bleeding Woman Israel
The official calls her his "daughter" (Mk 5:23). Jesus calls the woman "daughter" (Mk 5:34). Both the girl and the woman are "daughters" of Israel.
The official's daughter was 12 years old (Mk 5:42). The woman bled for 12 years (Mk 5:25). 12 is the number of Israel, originally composed of 12 tribes that were the descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel.
Jesus healed and raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, restoring her to her family (Mk 5:42). Jesus healed the bleeding woman and restored her to her community (Mk 5:34). Jesus came to heal and restore Israel: to raise the faithful remnant of the new Israel from bondage to death and to new life in Christ Jesus.
Michal E. Hunt © 2011

Catechism References:
Wisdom 1:13 (CCC 413, 1008), 2:23-24 (CCC 1008)
2 Corinthians 8:9 (CCC 517, 1351, 2407, 2546)
Mark 5:21-42 (CCC 994), 5:25-34 (CCC 548), 5:28 (CCC 2616); 5:34 (CCC 1504); 5:36 (CCC 1504, 2616)

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2015