Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
The themes we find in the liturgy today give us plenty to think about. For starters they`re about sickness and death. These two inescapable realities impinge on all of us in one way or another every day.Even when we`re in glowing health we tend to worry if we`re really ok.I remember a colleague of mine telling me once that he read a book on human ailments and when he finished he thought he had all the symptoms described in the book.
The Scripture passages open today with an assurance that death was never part of God`s plan for human beings.Instead the sacred writer tells us that God wished that we would all share lasting and imperishable life with himself, the author of life.However, `he goes on, ` it was the Devil`s envy that brought death into the world.
In the gospel today Mark gives us two vivid stories about sickness and death and how Jesus dealt with them in both cases. The stories are interwined, really a miracle within a miracle.When Jesus sets out to visit the daughter of Jairus another needy person gets her oar in.
In a way because of her embarrassment and the contemporary culture, the woman was looking for a miracle on the cheap – almost a quick fix, no fuss, no hassle – she just wanted to be healed and then fade back into the crowd again.
She reminds me of people who want a quick mass and a quicker exit – don’t get too involved – if you stick around long enough you may be asked to hold a box in the porch or something! But like the woman in the gospel they prefer to opt for the anonymity of the crowd, and not be too obviously a member of the faith community.Jesus however wanted the woman to have something more than a quick fix: he wished her to have personal encounter with himself.He wanted her to hear his voice telling her to go in peace completely healed. There`s a big difference in the two outcomes.
In the second miracle Jesus also shows how he breaks through contemporary ritual in order to do good. In the eyes of the Jews the woman was unclean because of her illness and the child was unclean because she was dead! At 12 she was of marriageable age, about the same as our Confirmation candidates. We notice that was the length of time the older woman had been ill. Like the Moslems today Jesus should not have touched a female who was not a relative.But Jesus ignored this prohibition.Mark tells us the very words Jesus spoke in the local language of Aramaic: `Talitha Kum`, which means, `Little girl rise up`. What Marak is telling us in the gospel today is that when we approach Jesus , when we touch him in the Eucharist or the sacraments, we are in direct contact with the Lord of life and death.
I can remind our young people that God`s spirit, the Spirit of Jesus that they will receive in Confirmation, will equip them to deal with anything that life can throw at them.It will help them not to be anxious or afraid either, when they come face to face with the reality of death.
A period of twelve years occurs then in both stories which Marks relates. It is possible to be spiritually deaf or even dead to God`s word for that period or even longer. But Jesus reaches out to us, `he took her by the hand`. Even if we have been deaf, we can approach Jesus today and be healed like the woman or like the daughter of Jairus. We can rise up and walk on in our lives hand in hand with the Lord.
Tadgh Tierney ODC