Catholic homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: The mystery of the true light
By: Fr. Jude Chijioke
Homily for Sunday June 27 2021
Readings: Wisdom 1:13-15, 2: 23 – 24; Ps. 30; 2 Corinthians 8: 7, 9, 13 -15; Mark 5: 21- 43
In our gospel reading today a twofold miracle woven into a single narrative is offered to us, that of a risen girl and a woman healed of a serious hemorrhage. The first story has four actors: Jesus, the girl, her father, and the crowd. Around these characters we will build our simple reflection. Let us begin with the father who immediately enters the scene, presented with his name and his position. Jairus is designated as the “head of the synagogue” of the town of Capernaum, the synagogue which, according to John (chap. 6), will host Jesus as he delivers his surprising discourse on the bread of life.
Struck by tragedy, Jairus becomes one of the many unhappy people who came to Jesus stripped of every honor and prestige and in humility throws himself at his feet with utter abandonment and persistently begs and expresses his absolute trust in Christ. In counterpoint the second actor stands out; it is a chorus, that of a noisy crowd that followed Jesus and Jairus out of curiosity and waiting for a spectacle. As soon as the news of the girl’s death spreads, interest diminishes; on the contrary, it is no longer the case for the crowd to continue to keep hope alive; the extreme confidence in their rabbi becomes only a case of “disturbance”. In these characters we can sense the face of superficiality that passes from one attitude to another without coherence, those who love the immediate result, who do not know how to hope even against fear like Abraham.
It is not for nothing that they soon began to “ridicule” Jesus.
They, as Christ ordered, must remain outside. They would not understand the mystery that is about to be accomplished; at most they would shout at the prodigy, at that exceptional miracle without penetrating its deep meaning. Jesus also excludes all the lamenters, all the “people who cried and screamed”. For the great moment that is about to take place, internal and external silence is necessary. And there in that simple room, faced with the drama of death and its mystery, only those can enter who live it in the flesh and in the spirit, that is the father and mother of the little girl, and those who will know how to understand the mystery in the true light, that is, the disciples, Peter, James, and John. But in the end, only them remain at the center of the scene, the last two actors, the real protagonists, Jesus, and the girl. Let us first fix our gaze on Jesus, who is also called “Teacher” in the story.
He emerges in all his power and grandeur in the silence that fell on that room. Jesus took the little girl by the hand which reechoes the words of Psalm 37: 24, “though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand”. This simple but creative gesture is accompanied by the words that Jesus pronounced in Aramaic: Talitha koum! An order to the “girl” to “stands up” and walk among the living. A gesture and two words. Christ does not need magical acts, complicated rites, long and elaborate scripts, applauses from the crowd, to perform a miracle or a sign.
More than a miracle, Mark wants to lead us into a divine mystery. In fact, as the canticle of Anna, the mother of Samuel in (1 Sam 2: 6), says, “it is the Lord who gives both death and life; he brings people down to the grave and raises them to life again”
In the girl, the last personality in the story embodies something more than a simple miracle: a “risen”, and this word in the New Testament language has resonance that goes beyond the simple resuscitation of a corpse. Rather, a participation in the resurrection of Christ, in his divine life, in the eternal communion of God. Mark therefore wants to glimpse in that twelve-year-old girl who returns to life what John will make flesh in the narration of the resurrection of Lazarus. Using the language of the Fathers of the Church, we could say that for the Christian, death is a sleep and the resurrection is an awakening on the perfect day of the Lord. Pope Benedict XVI in his eschatology holds that “death has nothing to do with absence of breath, but an authentic death is absence of connection or relationship with God”. The daughter of Jairus, like Lazarus, now returns to her loved ones, to her work, waiting for her wedding (which in ancient Israel was only possible after the age of twelve and a half). Death, now avoided, will knock again on her house and on her heart but, through the death of the “Master”, the Christ Jesus whom she established a relationship with, that death will only be a threshold that opens onto light and eternal life.
– Fr. Jude Chijioke