Voskreshenie_docheri_Iaira_(1871)_by_Vasiliy_Polenov - Wikimedia Commons

Jesus is the Life That Gives Life on Earth and for Eternity

With the invitation to believe that Christ does not give only health and life to those who ask them to him, but also salvation and eternal life.

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XIII Sunday Ordinary Time – Year B – July 1, 2018
Roman Rite
Wis 1.13-15; 2,23-24; Ps 30; 2Cor 8,7.9.13-15; Mk 5: 21-43
Ambrosian Rite
VI Sunday after Pentecost
Ex 3,1-15; Ps 68; 1Cor 2: 1-7; Mt 11.27-30
1) The one who touches Life, heals. The one who is touched by Life, rises again.
The Gospel of this XIII Sunday in Ordinary Time presents us Jesus Christ healing a woman whose sickness was worsening despite the long and costly cares and resuscitating a young girl awakening her from the sleep of death.
Is, therefore, the Messiah a healer and a thaumaturgic man who offers to a humanity always looking for effective treatment the answer to its sufferings, defeating disease and death?
Jesus was sent by the Father not to go where science and medicine failed, or to realize the utopia of a world without pain and without death.
The miracles performed by Christ are, together with the preaching, the good news that announces that the liberation offered by God has come into the world giving back to man his dignity as a child of God, reunites man to his God, and gives life back to him.
Faith is needed to truly welcome this Gospel (= good news). In fact, the account of two miracles does not draw attention to these two prodigious facts, but to the faith of those who ask for them. Faith is indispensable to the miracle. Jesus does not perform miracles to force, at any cost, the human heart. Miracles are signs in favor of faith, but they do not diminish the courage to believe. Miracles are a gift, a response to the sincerity of the man who seeks the Lord: they do not serve where there is closure and obstinacy. This is why the Messiah does not perform miracles where men claim to be the ones to establish the modalities of God’s action.
Therefore, even in these two cases, the miracle is a gift of the free initiative of God, who responds lovingly to those who humbly ask.
Let’s take a closer look at the two facts:
The miracle of healing of the woman who suffered blood loss would have let itself very well to underline the power of Jesus. To this woman, it was enough to touch the garment of Jesus to be healed. However, Saint Mark does not emphasize this aspect but emphasizes the hidden, but full of faith, a gesture of the sick woman.
Why does the woman wish not to be noticed and Jesus, instead, seems to do everything to emphasize her gesture?
The law declared impure the woman who had blood loss, and impure to touch her. This is why the woman touches Jesus’ dress in secret, taking advantage of the crowd. This is why she feels so guilty, frightening and trembling when she sees herself discovered. It is for the same reason that Jesus gives publicity to what has happened: to declare publicly, in front of everyone, that he does not feel impure after having been touched by the woman. He goes beyond the legal purity and impurity and looks at the faith of the woman to whom he says: «Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed of your evil «(Mk 5: 34). She becomes a daughter, regenerated in the power of Jesus, through the door of faith that has «saved» her before «healing» her. She can now go in peace, healed from the root of evil because she was first «saved». The audacity of her faith has opened the heart of God: touching Jesus means pure and adult faith in which to abandon oneself to him even from the depths of the gravest sin. In fact, faith is touching Jesus, dragging him into our half-dead and impure life. It is to make him aware that he has saved us. It means «forcing» the power that the Lord Jesus seems to be incapable of controlling.
It is still faith at the center of the healing of the daughter of Jairus: «Do not be afraid, only have faith» (Id. 5, 36).
It is faith in the power of Jesus, a power capable of reaching the person in his or her particular situation, and, in this case, victorious even over death.
Faith is a very human and vital act that tends to life and opposes death. Faith is an act of intelligence and an abandonment of the will, which makes us adhere to God like a child clinging to the mother’s chest. Then, like children with a simple heart, let’s remain confident in the arms of God.
2) Faith persevering in the resurrection
Commenting on these two miracles, Pope Francis said: «The message is clear, and can be summarized in a question: do we believe that Jesus can heal us and awaken us from death? The whole Gospel is written in the light of this faith: Jesus has risen, he has conquered death, and for this victory, we too will be resurrected «(Words at the Angelus of June 29, 2015).
The liturgy of the Word of this Sunday invites us to live in the certainty of the resurrection: «Jesus is the Lord, Jesus has power over evil and death, and wants to take us to the Father’s house where life reigns. There, we will all meet, all of us who are here in the square today, we will meet in the house of the Father, in the life that Jesus will give us «(Id). Therefore, the Resurrection of Christ acts in history as a principle of renewal and hope. If anyone who is desperate and tired to death entrusts himself to Jesus and to his love,  he or she can begin to live again. What does it mean to live if you do not share the vital love that the Lord gives? In fact, in today’s Gospel, we see Jesus sharing the sorrow of Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue who has a seriously ill 12-year-old daughter, and the suffering of the sick woman. To her, he gives back the ability to give life, to the other he gives life so that she can meet Life: He himself.
To those who thirst for life, “To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. «(Lumen Fidei, 57).
In the same way, as he entered the house of Jairus and became present to his little daughter taking her by the hand, Christ takes us by the hand and intertwines his life with ours, which thus receives Life forever.
Like that little girl, Christ lifts us up, makes us rise again. We receive love from Him and return love to Him.
When this love is completely given to God, it is called virginity.
The consecrated Virgins in the world testify that virginity is the highest way of loving and of living God. Their life as virgins is a testimony of God’s love and the manifestation of the wisdom of the heart received from Christ. With their life totally given to God these women «preach the gospel of Virginity», according to which «faith is not a decorative, ornamental thing. To live faith is not to decorate life with a little bit of religion «(Pope Francis), but it is the basic criterion for living truly.
With humility and with loving faith, the consecrated Virgins in the world have given themselves to Christ, to whose Word they listen constantly through the assiduous reading of the Bible. They reach out into the world as a gospel of Virginity «in order to more ardently love Christ and serve with more free devotion to the brothers «(Premises of the Rite of Consecration of the Virgins). This is why the apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata attributes to them a sort of «spiritual magisterium» which places them as «expert guides of spiritual life» (Vita Consecrata, n. 55). They teach us to live faith with the heart, to listen to his Word so that it becomes flesh in them as it happened to Mary, and to be true evangelizers carrying into the world the Word of God that is light to our steps.
Patristic reading
Golden Chain
On Mk 5:35-43
Theophylact: Those who were about the ruler of the synagogue, thought that Christ was one of the prophets, and for this reason, they thought that they should beg of Him to come and pray over the damsel. But because she had already expired, they thought that He ought not to be asked to do so.
Therefore it is said, «While He yet spake, there came messengers to the ruler of the synagogue, which said, Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Master any further?»
But the Lord Himself persuades the father to have confidence.
For it goes on, «As soon as Jesus heard the word which was spoken, He saith to the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid; only believe.»
Augustine: It is not said that he assented to his friends who brought the tidings and wished to prevent the Master from coming, so that our Lord’s saying, «Fear not, only believe,» is not a rebuke for his want of faith, but was intended to strengthen the belief which he had already. But if the Evangelist had related, that the ruler of the synagogue joined the friends who came from his house, in saying that Jesus should not be troubled, the words which Matthew relates him to have said, namely, that the damsel was dead, would then have been contrary to what was in his mind.
It goes on, «And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.»
Theophylact: For Christ in His lowliness would not do anything for display.
It goes on, «And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.»
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But He Himself commands them not to wail, as if the damsel was not dead, (p. 102) but sleeping.
Wherefore it says, «And when He was come in, He saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.»
Pseudo-Jerome: It was told the ruler of the synagogue, Thy daughter is dead. But Jesus said to him, She is not dead, but sleepeth. Bother are true, for the meaning is, She is dead to you, but to Me she is asleep.
Bede: For to men she was dead, who were unable to raise her up; but to God, she was asleep, in whose purpose both the soul was living, and the flesh was resting, to rise again. Whence it became a custom amongst Christians, that the dead, who, they doubt not, will rise again, should be said to sleep.
It goes on, «And they laughed Him to scorn.»
Theophylact: But they laugh at Him, as if unable to do anything farther; and in this, He convicts them of bearing witness involuntarily, that she was really dead whom He raised up, and therefore, that it would be a miracle if He raised her.
Bede: Because they chose rather to laugh at than to believe in this saying concerning her resurrection, they are deservedly excluded from the place, as unworthy to witness His power in raising her, and the mystery of her rising.
Wherefore it goes on, «But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.»
Chrys.: Or else, to take away all display, He suffered not all to be with Him; that, however, He might leave behind Him witnesses of His divine power, He chose His three chief disciples and the father and mother of the damsel, as being necessary above all. And He restores life to the damsel both by His hand and by word of mouth.
Wherefore it says, «And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise.»
For the hand of Jesus, having a quickening power quickens the dead body, and His voice raises her as she is lying.
Wherefore it follows, «And straightway the damsel arose and walked.»
Jerome, Hier. ad Pam., Ep. 57: Someone may accuse the Evangelist of a falsehood in his explanation, in that he had added, «I say unto thee,» when in Hebrew, «Talitha cumi» only means, «Damsel, arise;» but He adds, «I say unto thee, Arise,» to express that His meaning was to call and command her.
It goes on, «For she was of the age of twelve years.»
Gloss.: The Evangelist added this, (p. 103) to shew that she was of an age to walk. By her walking, she is shewn to have been not only raised up but also perfectly cured.
It continues, «And they were astonished with a great astonishment.»
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 81: To shew that He had raised her really, and not only to the eye of fancy.
Bede: Mystically; the woman was cured of a bloody flux, and immediately after the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue is reported to be dead, because as soon as the Church of the Gentiles is washed from the stain of vice, and called daughter by the merits of her faith, at once the synagogue is broken up on account of its zealous treachery and envy; treachery, because it did not choose to believe in Christ; envy, because it was vexed at the faith of the Church.
What the messengers told the ruler of the synagogue, «Why troublest thou the Master any more,» is said by those in this day who, seeing the state of the synagogue, deserted by God, believe that it cannot be restored, and therefore think that we are not to pray that it should be restored. But if the ruler of the synagogue, that is, the assembly of the teachers of the Law, determine to believe, the synagogue also, which is subjected to them, will be saved.
Further, because the synagogue lost the joy of having Christ to dwell in it, as its faithlessness deserved, it lies dead as it were, amongst persons weeping and wailing. Again, our Lord raised the damsel by taking hold of her hand, because the hands of the Jews, which are full of blood, must first be cleansed, else the synagogue, which is dead, cannot rise again. But in the woman with the bloody flux, and the raising of the damsel is shewn the salvation of the human race, which was so ordered by the Lord, that first some from Judaea, then the fulness of the Gentiles might come in, and so all Israel might be saved. Again, the damsel was twelve years old, and the woman had suffered for twelve years because the sinning of unbelievers was contemporary with the beginning of the faith of believers.
Wherefore it is said, «Abraham believed in God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.» (Gn 15,6)
(ed. note: Bede’s own words are rather more clear than those in the Catena: «That is, the woman began to be afflicted at the same time as the damsel was born; for nearly at the same period of the world the synagogue began to arise amongst the patriarchs, and the race of Gentiles throughout the world to be polluted with idolatry.»)
(p. 104)
Greg., Mor. 4, 27: Morally again, our Redeemer raised the damsel in the house, the young man without the gate, Lazarus in the tomb; he still lies dead in the house, whose sin is concealed; he is carried without the gate, whose sin has broken forth into the madness of an open deed; he lies crushed under the mound of the tomb, who in the commission of sin, lies powerless beneath the weight of habit.
Bede: And we may remark, that lighter and daily errors may be cured by the remedy of a lighter penance. Wherefore the Lord raises the damsel, lying in the inner chamber with a very easy cry, saying, «Damsel, arise;» but that he who had been four days dead might quit the prison of the tomb, He groaned in spirit, He was troubled, He shed tears. In proportion, then, as the death of the soul presses the more heavily, so much the more ardently must the fervor of the penitent press forward.
But this too must be observed, that a public crime requires a public reparation; wherefore Lazarus, when called from the sepulchre, was placed before the eyes of the people: but slight sins require to be washed out by a secret penance, wherefore the damsel lying in the house is raised up before few witnesses, and those are desired to tell no man.
The crowd also is cast out before the damsel is raised; for if a crowd of worldly thoughts be not first cast out from the hidden parts of the heart, the soul, which lies dead within, cannot rise.
Well too did she arise and walk, for the soul, raised from sin, ought not only to rise from the filth of its crimes, but also to make advances in good works, and soon it is necessary that it should be filled with heavenly bread, that is, made partaker of the Divine Word, and of the Altar.

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Archbishop Francesco Follo

Monsignor Francesco Follo è osservatore permanente della Santa Sede presso l'UNESCO a Parigi.

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