THEME: GOD IS THE GIVER OF LIFE
READINGS: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24/ 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15/ Mark 5:21-43
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The loss of a dear parent, child, spouse, sibling, etc. sometimes raises faith-shaking questions: Why did God allow this to happen to them? How can a good God take away my dear one, now that I need him or her most? Does God really exist?
Seemingly, such questions have been frequently asked since December 2019 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Officially, the number of deaths across the world today is about 3.93 million. However, the actual number of deaths may be twice this figure. Consequently, the number of people who have been bereaved due to the pandemic are uncountable. In the midst of this pandemic, which has also wrecked havocs in economies, dismantled many business ventures, created large scale unemployment, weakened some political systems, etc., some have wondered whether God is punishing us.
Beloved, on the contrary, our God is the giver of life and source of human advancement. He is certainly not the originator of the pandemic nor of death itself. Thus, today’s first reading affirms: ‘God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living…. For God made man imperishable … it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world’ (Wisdom 1:13; 2:23-24). That is, God created us to live forever. The devil, however, brought death into the world. However, there is good news for us: in Jesus Christ, God fixes the problem of death.
1. GOD CREATED US TO LIVE FOREVER
Why do we believe that God created us to live forever? It is because:
i. The good Lord could not have created death, which is an evil.
ii. Death, which is a destruction, could not have been part of God’s creation; for God’s work at the end of ‘six days’ of creation was described as ‘very good’; i.e., perfect (cf. Gen. 1:31).
iii. If death were to be God’s creation, it would have been contradictory to send his Son to ‘fix’ the damage caused by sin and death (cf. Rom. 5:12).
iv. No part of the immortal God can die; therefore, the spirit he breathed into Adam cannot die (cf. Wisdom 2: 23).
2. IN JESUS, GOD FIXES THE PROBLEM OF DEATH
A creative person is capable of recycling or turning waste into something useful. Similarly, the Creator God turns death (the waste which the devil brought into the world) into the manure for our eternal life. In other words, the problem of death, which the devil brought into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the Master Creator fixes through the obedience of his Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 5:12-21).
Another way of seeing death in the eyes of Jesus is that it is a mere long sleep. Now, as a doctor may induce a patient into sleep, so as to undertake a life-giving surgical operation, so Jesus sees our death as a sleep during which He undertakes the eternal life-giving operation. Thus, according to the gospel reading, Jesus told those wailing at the death of the 12-year-old girl that she was not dead, but only asleep (cf. Mark 5:21-43).
3. JESUS DEMONSTRATED THAT HE HAS COME TO GIVE US FULL LIFE
Beloved, Jesus, did not only say that the little girl was asleep, He actually demonstrated that in Him, God fixes the problem of death. Thus, to the utter astonishment of the doubting mourners, Jesus raised the little girl back to life.
Furthermore, blood, as we know, signifies life and the total lack of it means death. Therefore, Jesus, by stopping the flow of blood of the woman who had hemorrhage for 12 years, showed that He gives life.
In fact, Jesus has come that we might have full life (cf. John 10:10); that is, not just earthly life, but eternal life. Hence, elsewhere Jesus did not merely raise the dead Lazarus back to this earthly life, but He also declared that He is ‘the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25). In other words, in Him, we have access to life forever in heaven.
Beloved, let us, therefore, not allow any life-threatening situation or the blow of death in our family or community to lead us to despair or doubt. Rather, let us reaffirm our faith that God, the giver of life, has created us to live forever; and that, in Jesus Christ, ‘the resurrection and the life’, death is no longer our end, but the sleep of ‘spiritual operation’ during which He heals our souls for everlasting life in heaven. Amen.
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis