Death was not God’s doing,
he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living.
To be – for this he created all;
the world’s created things have health in them,
in them no fatal poison can be found,
and Hades holds no power on earth;
for virtue is undying.
Yet God did make man imperishable,
he made him in the image of his own nature;
it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world,
as those who are his partners will discover.
2 Corinthians 8:7,9,13-15
You always have the most of everything – of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause, and the biggest share of our affection – so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too. Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was: he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty. This does not mean that to give relief to others you ought to make things difficult for yourselves: it is a question of balancing what happens to be your surplus now against their present need, and one day they may have something to spare that will supply your own need. That is how we strike a balance: as scripture says: The man who gathered much had none too much, the man who gathered little did not go short.
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’
While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life. At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.
The gift of retrospect is precious but often fleeting and easily brushed aside, if we do not consider that God has answered our prayers at only the most propitious time.
As I prepared my reflections for today’s readings, I was surprised by the fact that the Responsorial Psalm is exactly the same as the one I had been assigned for six months ago in March. Most importantly, this verse struck me: ‘His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life. At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.’ I cannot help but see this as God’s message for me at this very point of my life, of my day, in my heart. It can only mean one thing – that God is real, He listens, He speaks, He loves me.
The gospel today tells of two girls in need of healing – Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter, who was thought to be terminally ill, and a woman in the crowd, who was suffering from a twelve-year long bleeding in her womb. Is this any coincidence?
To me, these two characters represented a ‘life-course’ of faith. Metaphorically-speaking, the little girl points to the start of my Christian journey and the older lady of the desire to continue seeking and holding onto my faith in God all through my life.
We have all had that moment of encounter in the beginning of our new-found faith that might have changed the course of our life. Yet, faith is not one moment in time, but an undulating path through all kinds of terrain as we try to follow and cling to Christ. How have I embraced and reflected on the successes and disappointments in my life along the way? I have definitely suffered moments of unbelief and despair. I have certainly contemplated giving up on trusting God after facing repetitive setbacks. Nonetheless, I have also experienced a renewal and revival of my faltering faith. He never leaves me. He waits for me. He pursues me.
What matters most is not how dramatically my faith life begins, but that I choose to keep on walking with Christ until the end. It matters more that I, like the older woman, am steadfast and persistent in entrusting my life and its uncertainties into the Father’s hands. It matters that I surrender my pride and stubbornness to respond to Him.
This is just like love in marriage. It matters less how we first fell in love, but most that we strive to keep dying to ourselves at the altar of mutual selfless love. That we persist in loving and honouring each other, in spite of the tribulations and differences, all through life.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: Lord, help me to remain steadfast in my love for you and faithful in love for my husband/wife.
Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the love from God that I receive in and through my husband/wife.