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In today’s Gospel we have a story within a story. The main story is about a synagogue official named Jairus who sought out Jesus’ help because his daughter was “at the point of death.” Jesus set off with him, but while they were on the way to Jairus’ house a woman with a hemorrhage touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak, hoping to be healed. She was healed and when it was discovered that she was the one who had touched his cloak, Jesus said to her. “Daughter, your faith has saved you.” While this was taking place “people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said: ‘Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?’” Jesus, though, disregarded the message and told Jairus: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” When they arrived at the house, Jesus asked those who were mourning the child’s death: “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but asleep.” Jesus then put them all out and “he took the child by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum.’ which means ‘Little girl I say to you arise!’” The child arose immediately, the people were astounded, but Jesus “gave them strict orders that no one should know about this.”
There are three important things to note about this story. 1. The synagogue official was willing to take a big risk for the sake of his daughter. Other synagogue officials would not take kindly to one of their own approaching Jesus with a request. They regarded Jesus as problematic trouble maker. 2. Notice that Jesus restored the little girl to this life. This is a story of resuscitation, not a resurrection. 3. Often in Mark’s Gospel, after Jesus has performed a miraculous deed, he told his disciples not to tell anyone about it. The reason is that the people of Jesus’ time were looking for a messiah who would restore Israel to a place of prominence. Jesus was not that kind of messiah.
Our first reading this weekend, from the book of Wisdom, shares the theme of the Gospel. It reminds us that "God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being.”
In our second reading this weekend, Paul is writing to the community at Corinth. He has asked them to take up a collection for the Christian community at Jerusalem. He said: “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.”
Questions for reflection/discussion:
- Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said that many times he had been driven to his knees by the conviction that he had no where else to go. I think this was the position that Jairus was in. Have you ever found yourself in this position?
- How would you explain the difference between being resuscitated and being resurrected?
- From our second reading this weekend, it seems that sharing our abundance with others was part of the Christian life from the very beginning. I suspect, though, that how much we share from our abundance would depend on how you define abundance. How would you define abundance?