13th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year B.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The God of Life.”
The first reading tells us that God is always on the side of life. He wants people to live. All that puts this life in danger, whatever diminishes or ruins it is not from him; it comes as a result of people’s sin.
The second reading could be linked to this theme: ‘Christians must help those who are in difficulty, who are hungry, or for the lack of the bare minimum, do not live the type of life that God wants all human beings to live’.
In the Gospel we find Jesus who, like God, his Father, shows how much he wants all to live a full and happy life; he first heals a woman who, because of her illness, cannot lead a fully human life: then he restores to life a girl who has just died.
The Church and our community are challenged to recognize the courageous faith of women and to be on the side of women, whose human dignity and ability to give and sustain life are threatened by war, disease, abuse and poverty.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.”
Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24.
This Sunday’s reading is from the opening chapters of the Book of Wisdom. The author of Wisdom looks back over the history of Israel and reflects how God’s wisdom has been active in it from the start. He reaffirms the teachings of Genesis that humanity did not come into being by chance, but was created through God’s will and design in his own image.
He goes beyond the teachings of Genesis in declaring how God’s human creation is imperishable and immortal. The lectionary presents us with two small selections of verses. The first selection is about the relationship of death and creation. The second is about the relationship of death and humanity.
God’s creation is good. Death was not intended to be part of it. He didn’t make humankind for death. Moreover, no part of the world was created to be harmful to any other part. It was all meant to exist in harmony. Our immortality was linked to our relationship with God. “The netherworld,” i.e., the dominion of death, has no natural place in the world.
The world was made to be like God, and godliness is undying. Men and women were made in the image of God and therefore were made to be imperishable. The devil knew this and tempted humans to break with God. He succeeded, but not as fully as he thought. If death is in the world, it is “by the envy of the devil.” Those who chose to belong to the evil one, experience the final, ultimate death of the spirit.
There are two principles inherent in these verses. The first is that God’s creation is a good creation, made to be one harmonious whole in which no one part would be harmful or deadly to any other. The second principle is that the real evil and death that we experience in the world is not God’s doing but is the result of the incursion of malice and hatred into the context of God’s good creation, an incursion that has seemed to have been welcomed and accepted by human beings.
The death caused by sin is the destruction of the life of the sinner, of the evildoer. Is it is not true that a person who hates, seeks vengeance, is violent, take drugs, and does not respect his/her family, even though they may be in perfect health, is in fact like a dead person moving around? Have they not destroyed the best part of themselves?
The first reading of today quite rightly concludes that death is experienced only by those who are the devil’s partners. All others can escape it. God has created people for life. A person dies when he/she stops loving, when he/she is selfish. The devil is not a monster (with or without horns) that cannot be seen or met. It is the evil that is found in our hearts, it is the kingdom of darkness, of hate, of sin. If we allow it to enter our hearts, if we do not resist it, we shall ruin our lives.
Human beings may not be the immediate cause of all that is destructive and inharmonious in the world, but human beings are responsible for allowing the forces of evil to gain a foothold in God’s creation. These verses also suggest that bodily death may not be the last word.
If the world reflects on the goodness of God, if God formed humanity to be imperishable, if God made human beings in the image of his own nature, and if justice (i.e., godliness) is undying, then it seems reasonable to conclude that evil will not triumph in the end.
The revelation of personal immortality after physical death is a truth that God gave us only gradually. But it seems that by the first century B.C. the idea was becoming clearer and was widely accepted, thanks to texts like today’s Sunday readings.
Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13.
The Psalm is a song of thanksgiving for recovery from sickness. The psalmist will always be grateful. We note a contrast with Wisdom. God can rescue from sickness but the psalmist gives no hope beyond death. He is in Jairus’ situation before he met Jesus.
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15.
The passage we read today gives us the two reasons that Paul uses to persuade the Corinthians to be generous. The first is the example of Christ: he was rich and made himself poor to help us. The second is the need for some kind of equality. It is not that one has to make oneself poor to help others, but a matter of not keeping for oneself the goods that God wants us to share among the poorest.
This letter is a reminder to all our communities of the duty to help others and to share what we have. A Christian cannot lead a life of plenty and let some of his brothers or sisters go hungry.
Jesus has crossed back from the pagans to the Jewish territory and is met by Jairus, the president of the synagogue, who comes to ask for healing for his daughter. A woman suffering from a haemorrhage comes along and wants to touch Jesus. When she does, she is healed. But because Jesus is delayed, Jairus’ daughter dies. Instead of healing Jairus’ daughter, Jesus would now have to raise her to life.
Faith is what links the two stories. The sick woman believed that by touching Jesus’ clothes she would be healed. When she realized she had been healed and that Jesus wanted to know who had touched him, she came forward to admit it was she. Jesus let her know that it was her faith that had healed her. To touch another can be a sign of tenderness as when one touches a sick person. The woman believed that contact with Jesus would allow her to participate in the healing tenderness that he radiates. And so it is her ‘faith in Jesus’ that heals her and not the contact with his clothes.
Jairus had probably come to Jesus because he had heard about the miracles he worked. He believed that Jesus could do something for his sick daughter. When his daughter dies, the situation changes. From a faith in a Jesus who can heal the sick, we, like Jairus are challenged to believe that Jesus can reverse a situation that no doctor can reverse, to bring a dead person back to life. Jesus is aware of this and challenges Jairus and us to keep on trusting in him. That Jairus agrees to go with Jesus to his house is a sign that he has accepted this challenge and is prepared to give faith a chance and so his daughter is raised from the dead.
The words to describe the raising of the daughter of Jairus reflect on the Resurrection of Christ himself. The resurrection of the believer is possible because of Christ’s Resurrection. What happened in Jesus’ life was meant to imitate to all believers that they too will have life.
In the miracles of Jesus the element of faith is always important and if it is not that of the person directly concerned, as in the case of the woman in the Gospel of today, it is that of the community or of one person asking for help for another, as in the case of Jairus. Faith is so important that Mark says that Jesus could not work any miracles in Nazareth because of those people’s lack of faith. Miracles are not magical deeds but ‘invitations to grow in faith’.
These two miracles show the divine power of Jesus. He is the one who can save the life that is wasting away and can even give new life to the dead. We can apply the power of Jesus to our moral life. Life’s potential bleeds away when guilt drags us down, fear inhibits us, negative thinking darkens the mind and a history of weakness and failure drains away all hope. Reach out and touch the Lord as he goes by. Make a personal prayer to hand your life and all its problems over to Jesus. Let him be what his name means … ‘Saviour’!
Jesus has the power to heal the haemorrhage of energy and to bring back the dead to life. For somebody whose spiritual life has haemorrhaged in sinful behaviour … even for the soul dead in sin, there is still hope. Jesus did not say that his power had healed the woman, but ‘Your faith has restored you to health.’ The hands of Jesus touched, gave out energy, lifted up and restored to life. He has no hands now but ours.
Jesus overcame death. He restored life to the official’s daughter. But the meaning of the miracle is much deeper. He restored physical life to only three people: the little girl in today’s reading, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus.
But to every individual of the human race Jesus offers restoration to life in God. This is a far greater miracle – and we all share in it.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. … God’s creation was made to be one harmonious whole in which no one part would ever be harmful or deadly to any other. Death was not intended to be part of it. Those who accept the way of the ‘evil one’ and allow evil to permanently enter into our hearts will experience the final and ultimate death of the spirit. Never allow yourself to be fooled by the ‘tempter’.
Mon. … Death caused by sin is the self-destruction of the life of the sinner. We start to die when we stop loving each other and live only for one’s self interests. When we harden our hearts with hatred and vengeance and self-pride, we do so at our own peril.
Tues. … The revelation of immortality after physical death is a truth given to us by God. The key to eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven unlocks the golden gates to all those who truly love God and their neighbour. When we one day stand at the ‘Gates of Eternity’ will we hold this precious ‘key’ in our hearts or will it be hatred, the key to ‘Darkness’? The choice is ours.
Wed. … St. Paul reminds his people in Corinth of the Christian duty to help others and to share what we have. How can we lead a life of plenty and conveniently ignore out of selfishness some of our brothers and sisters who are desperate and who are hungry? We need to again remind ourselves that charity is the ‘key of love’ that unlocks the Golden Gates.
Thurs. … The ‘sick woman’ truly believed that by touching Jesus’ clothes she would be healed. It was her strong faith in Jesus that heals her and not the contact with his clothes. We too can experience Jesus’ healing tenderness that he radiates in the sacraments, which he has given us, that will heal and strengthen us spiritually and physically if we have faith.
Frid. … The actions of the ‘sick woman’ challenges our Church and our community to recognize the faith of women and to support all women, whose human dignity and ability to give and sustain life is threatened by war, crime, abuse, disease, and poverty. Women are the nucleus and the pillars of strength in all families and need to be protected. If we fail, we will all suffer the consequences of the breakdown of our society. Let us pray to our Blessed Mother Mary to guide and help us to protect this precious gift from God.
Sat. … Most of us have read in the Gospel about all the miracles that Jesus performed. Like Jairus, we too are challenged to believe that Jesus can reverse any situation that no doctor could reverse. Jairus had strong faith and so his daughter was raised from the dead. Miracles are not magical deeds but invitations to us to grow in faith. How strong is our faith? We of little faith, what more do we need to ‘believe’?
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father Almighty; let us today reflect on Your wonderful gift of faith. You call on all Your children to walk in the light of Christ. Free us from the darkness of sin and keep us in the radiance of your truth and love.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.