Commentary: 13th Sunday Year B

Resources Used:
1st Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 1:13–15, 2:23–24
God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal.

The inspired writer asserts that God is not the author of death, that is, the spiritual death that is a result of original sin (cf. Rom 5:12-15).

for God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

“Death” here means losing the incorruptibility that lies beyond physical death. The devil, through envy, tempted man to commit the original sin that resulted in the loss of immortality (cf. Gen 3-4).

Bishop Barron Homily Notes:

  • One of the most puzzling doctrines of the Church is grounded in today’s 1st reading and is given a narrative amplification in today’s Gospel. “God did not make death”. Death seems so natural. Everything dies. Trees, insects, animals, humans. So how could God not have made death? The Book of Wisdom attributes this to the devil. We must put this understanding of death in the wide framework.
  • Death, as the author here intends, is the whole psychological, spiritual, and physical phenomenon that we sinners experience. We have a tendency to see death as an end and we have a terrible fear of death. This is the death that God did not invent! This is what the author means. The full psychological, spiritual experience of death as something horrible and nihilistic. This is the death that is the wages of our sin, as St. Paul says.
  • Can we get any idea of physical death is like for someone who have not sinned? Yes, in our Blessed Mother. Not strictly dogmatic in saying not death of Mary but rather dormition of Mary – a peaceful, effortless falling asleep untouched by fear as the perfect transition into Beatitude.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 30:2a, 30:2, 4–6, 11–13
2nd Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13–15
7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

“To overcome man’s efforts at self-destruction is no small matter for God… He did not overcome our death through omnipotence but by descending into death’s powerlessness. This second death could only be conquered from within – only if divine power leaves Jesus in order to flow into us on the Cross and in the Eucharist” (Balthasar, LW, 216-7).

13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

“Paul hopes that we will imitate this, at least in a broad sense, by giving out of our material power to those who are needy to the extent that we at least achieve the sort of “balance” that suits a fraternal attitude. To this end, Jesus’ example of descent from complete wealth to utter poverty ought to serve as an, admittedly unattainable, ideal” (Balthasar, LW, 217).

Gospel: Mark 5:21–43
21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.24 So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”

“In the face of bodily death He speaks of sleep (something he does again the case of his friend Lazarus [Jn 11:11]), whereas He is anything but casual about real death, what Revelation calls the “second” (final) death” (Balthasar, LW, 216)

40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Bishop Barron Homily Notes: With the background of the 1st reading discussed, we hear two interesting clues in Jesus’ response to the death of the young girl:

  • First, do not be afraid, only believe. This is his response to death. In the face of the greatest fear, Jesus says trust. This is the attitude God wants us to have facing death – a trustful falling asleep. We hear this constantly in the Bible – trust in the Lord. Trust turns the terror of death into a falling asleep.
  • Second, Jesus tells the mourners that the child is only asleep. They must have been insulted and thought he was insane. The mourners see death as something terrible and horrible. Jesus sees it as a falling asleep. This is how God sees our transition from this world to the next – a dormition – a peace falling asleep – in anticipation of the far greater life to come.

Msgr Pope homily notes: Jairus is not merely a synagogue official who lived 2,000 years ago; you are Jairus and his journey is your journey.

  1. Trial: Jesus is going through a great crisis and goes to Jesus in his need. How about us?
  2. Tarrying: Jesus seems to intentionally delay healing her and this results in death. How often do our prayers not result in instant results? This waiting summons us to deeper faith.
  3. Testimony: Along the way, Jesus arranges a lesson in trust for Jairus through the example of a woman who has come to a remarkably strong faith through a long and painful journey. Jesus often sends us examples of faith to testify to us. Who has Jesus sent us for our trials?
  4. Temptation: Jairus is tempted to despair. Our world is full of people who tempt us to dismiss Jesus from our journey. Are we aware of these temptations against faith?
  5. Trust: Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid but rather have faith. This command is not merely an order; it is a dynamic principle.
  6. Triumph: Just as Jairus’ journey with Jesus led to victory, so will ours. In every trail, if you are in the Lord and journeying with Him, I promise you complete victory in Jesus. In the face of every trial and distress, just say, “I’ll rise!”
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