13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

**A reading from the Book of Wisdom (1: 13-15; 2: 23-24)**

The Book of Wisdom is known only in Greek; it may be the last book written in the Old Testament or Hebrew scriptures.  It seems to draw on the philosophical material of Philo of Alexandria and some other Jewish writers who lived in this very sophisticated, Greek (Hellenistic) city in the 1st century before Jesus. This is one of the books that are part of the ‘apocryphal’ books not included by Martin Luther when he ‘revised’ the Christian Bible. (Birmingham, Word & Worship Workbook Yr. B, 546)

This passage echoes the Eucharistic Prayer 3 in the Catholic tradition.  It ends, “Therefore we hope to enjoy forever the fullness of your glory through Christ our Lord through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.”  All good things are from God.  God wants good for us.  It is not only death of our living that is spoken about in this reading but the death of a good idea, the death of a hope for something, the death that can be found in negativity.  How might you find LIFE, goodness, wholesomeness, God’s own nature in you?

In Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si’”, he says, “The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement,” (#5).  How might we appreciate and protect all of creation so that it is seen as this gift that God intended?

**A reading from the 2nd Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (8:7: 9, 13-15)**

The Jerusalem Church was struggling at this time in severe poverty. Paul had promised after his meeting with the apostolic leadership in Jerusalem (in probably the year 49 AD) to try to collect money for those in need. This passage shows some of his efforts. For Paul, this collection was a matter of great importance. He urged generosity for he wanted to promote the unity of the church, and to overcome the barrier between Jewish and Greek Christians.   (J Dwyer, Church History, 43-44)

Generous people are primarily grateful people – people who know that ‘what they have’ is gift. We are creatures; we did not create ourselves. While we are responsible for how we use our gifts and talents, we are in the end never ‘self-made’ women or men. Thus, we are called to live with generosity. We must be people with open hands and hearts – not clinging to our wealth, but using whatever we have for the good of our families and others. This is what Paul it talking about here. In Jesus the Word of God ‘gave up’ the richness of divinity to embrace the poverty of human life, creaturehood. By so doing, Jesus showed us what God is like and what we are to be like, created as we are in the image of this God. (Exploring the Sunday Readings, July, 2000)

The passage references Exodus 16:18:  But when they measured it [the manna] out by the omer, he who had gathered a large amount did not have too much, and he who had gathered a small amount did not have too little.  They so gathered that everyone had enough to eat.  Do we think this way?

**A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (5: 21-43)**

From John Pilch, The Cultural World of Jesus, Cycle B, 104-105:

In Jesus’ day professional physicians hesitated to actually treat anyone (for they were held responsible with their own life if the treatment did not work). They preferred to just discuss illness in a rather philosophical way. Faith healers were far more common, and it seemed that Jesus was identified by people as one of these. It is hard to ‘get at’ the real history of these ‘cures’ for we have no factual evidence of any of these diseases since no one knew about germs or viruses etc. “But in the same terms, Jesus definitely healed all who wanted to be healed. Healing is the restoration of meaning to people’s lives no matter what their physical condition might be. Curing may be very rare, but [for those who reach out to Jesus] healing takes place infallibly, 100% of the time.” Because of Jesus this woman is welcomed into community, even though she violated the purity codes, and so did Jesus. The ‘other daughter’ is then restored by Jesus to her rightful place in community which is signified when Jesus commanded that she be given something to eat.

From Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook for Year B, 551:

The number 12 is of great significance; it pulls the two stories together. Jesus not only restores the older ‘daughter’ to fullness of life after 12 years, but he takes the hand of the 12-year-old and raises her up to new life. She ‘was asleep’ but is then restored. Perhaps she represents the 12 tribes of Israel. Mark’s Jesus believes he is presiding at the collapse of the social order determined by Jairus’ Judaism. The 12-year-old daughter of privilege is dead.  The outcast woman violates the purity codes and reaches out to Jesus. She sought fullness of life. Jesus responded to her need. Israel must also embrace the reign and power of God in their midst. The walls of social and religious status must be torn down.  Jesus can raise up what is lost. He gives life to the little girl prefiguring the salvation that Christ will offer through his own death and resurrection.

Jesus does not appear to have a plan but is simply and clearly available to the people.  Notice how Jesus follows Jairus.  Here Jesus is exemplifying what he talks about so often:  the leader must become the follower.  There must be no clinging to status nor lording it over others.  But then we are interrupted.  A woman, who had nowhere left to go.  But she had heard about Jesus, and she listened and understood.  She would have been socially “dead” (see 1st reading!) being isolated from everyone, since she was considered unclean.  Her faith was strong enough that she spoke up, against her fears, and didn’t fall into the trap of considering herself as good as dead.  And what does Jesus call her?  Daughter!  She is no longer an unknown woman, but family.  Jesus was committed to doing holy things, making things and people holy.  He felt that flow come out of him (Do we?).  The story hurries on (That’s Mark for you!) and now Jesus is leading Jairus.  Jesus uses the local dialect to raise his daughter from the dead.  The story ends with Jesus involving the family and community in her rehabilitation by getting her something to eat.  We all need to bring about the kingdom.  (From A. Gittins’ Encountering Jesus, p. 23-30)

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