A reading from the book of Wisdom
(Chapter 1: 13-15; 2:23-24)
The Book of Wisdom was probably written less than one hundred years before the birth of Jesus. It contains one of the most overt references to life after death in the Hebrew Scriptures. The author wants to convey that “God formed man to be imperishable…. God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” Sometimes death comes peacefully to a person surrounded by loved ones. At other times, it is the result of violence. In any case, it is the termination of a precious life. What comes next? Those who do not believe in an afterlife anticipate nothing. Those of us who believe have hope in the promise of new life. That promise begins in the scriptures right here and comes to fullness in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me.” Think of all the times the Lord has rescued you. Sometimes it is dramatic. Sometimes it is hardly noticeable until you think about it and then give thanks.
A reading from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
(Chapter 8:7,8,9, 13-15)
This reading is especially relevant following Pope Francis’ encyclical about climate change and its effect on the poorest people on earth. St. Paul tells us, “Your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.”
There is increasing talk about economic inequality in our country and around the world. Pope Francis goes directly back to the teaching of Jesus and St. Paul to call for greater equality and justice. We need to ask ourselves where we stand and how we act to help correct the imbalance in access to basic human needs, such as clean water. Is there even a small step that you can take?
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
(Chapter 5: 21-43)
Even many historians and scripture scholars who do not believe in the divinity of Jesus recognize that he was a healer. Jesus lived in an era in which “doctors" were often what we would consider quacks, and people were often faced with chaos from nature as well as from illness. Each of the dozens of miracles attributed to Jesus provides a power that confronts the chaos of illness, the forces of nature, and death itself. He never performed a miracle to create a spectacle but rather to heal, to bring safety and health where there was danger and life where there was the threat of death. Was the little girl described in today’s gospel passage really dead? The family and friends certainly thought so, but Jesus said no, she was only asleep, and he awakened her. In any case, she was thought to be dead, but Jesus brought her back to life.
We that Jesus will not save us from physical death in this life, but that he will be with us at all times, especially at the time of our death, and will lead us to the new life of the Resurrection. Do we have scientific proof of this? No, it is not on that level of knowing but rather in the mystery of faith. People have struggled with the reality of death since the beginning of time. So far, no one has come up with a more life-giving, hope-giving message than Jesus has. We will live forever. If a person does not believe that, then there is nothing, nothing in the future. We have quite a choice. Either we believe in life forever with our all-loving God, or we believe in nothing. May we confidently always choose life forever in the presence of our all-loving God. Let us rejoice!
Painting: "The Raising of Jairus' Daughter" (detail) by Edwin Long (1829-1891), Victoria Art Gallery, Somerset, England.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.