Poverty, sickness, and death are three terrible afflictions besieging the human society. In fact, it appears that our daily struggles often aim at reducing the impact of these deplorable conditions. However, they remain with us still. Poverty is a reality even in the neighborhood of the extremely rich in the world. Somewhere in the Gospels, our Lord Jesus Christ maintains that we will always have the poor with us (Matt. 26:11). Despite the progress in medical sciences, sicknesses are still on a geometric rise. The presence of millions of hospital and billions of doctors around the world have not defeated the siege of disease and sickness; in fact, new ones are still emerging. Death itself is a debt all of us would pay at various points in our earthly life no matter how long we live.
The First Reading today (Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24), tells us that God did not make death. God created the world to the standard of excellence and even made man to be imperishable. However, it was through the envy of the devil that death entered the world. In the Second Reading (2 Cor. 8:7,9,13-15), St. Paul reminds us that our Lord Jesus Christ, though rich, became poor to rescue us from poverty. Finally, the Gospel Reading (Mark 5:21-43), gives us practical instances of divine rescue from sickness and death. We shall dwell briefly on the Gospel story before making some practical applications of the divine rescue to our Christian life and vocation.
The Gospel begins with the return of our Lord Jesus Christ from the other side of the sea where a large crowd was waiting for him. In the crowd, a Synagogue official, Jairus, approaches our Lord and prostrating before Jesus begs him to come along to attend to his dying daughter, and our Lord follows him. On his way, a woman with hemorrhages, for twelve years, says to her self (in faith), “if I touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” And according to the structure of her faith, she gets instant healing when she touched the clothes of Jesus Christ.
Now, with the length of time our Lord spent with the events surrounding the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, Jarius’ daughter moved from sickness to death as reports had it. However, our Lord encourages Jarius to hold on to his faith without fear. Fast forwarding to the house of Jarius, our Lord says she was sleeping and ignoring the ridicule of the mourners, he goes into the room with Peter, James and John and raises the child up to life by saying “Talitha koum,” which means “little girl, I say to you arise.”
We have so many lessons to learn from the Gospel narrative. For the sake of focus, we shall be dwelling on how we can obtain rescue from eternal poverty, sickness, and death. For the sake of clarity, the word eternal means everlasting. In this context, therefore, we are looking at the eradication of the ultimate poverty sickness and death which are beyond the physical ones we know.
- Standing out from the crowd
The crowd usually is disorganized, insensitive, and lacks purpose. To experience divine rescue, you need to stand out from the crowd and distinguish yourself with a genuine goal. From the Gospel Reading, we could see that there was no prior appointment nor arrangement between the woman with the hemorrhages and Jarius. What they did was to stand out from the crowd and make their appointment with the Lord.
Every day, Jesus comes over the other side of our lives. Often, we do not notice him and at other times we prefer to move along with the crowd without making an effort to stand out from the crowd and experience him in a personal way as the woman and Jarius.
Standing out of the crowd is a choice and a decision we need to make. We stand out from the crowd when we decide to walk in the light and shun the darkness of sin (1 John 1:5-7). We stand out from the crowd when we show our love by our obedience to God (John 14:15). We stand out from the crowd when though we are in the crowd we are not of the crowd (John 17:15-16).
- Defying the obstacles of the crowd
The moment you decide to stand out from the crowd, you will contend with the challenges of the crowd. The crowd would discourage you and tell you about impossibilities. With the woman, she had to fight through the crowd in the effort to reach her goal. She may have to fall several times, but she keeps going. While the crowd gives her several reasons to back out, she gives them one reason to keep going; the grace of God which is always sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
In the case of Jarius, the crowd tells him not to bother Jesus Christ because the child is dead; the crowd tells him of impossibility, and he stands on the ground of possibility as he also stands there with the Lord of impossibilities (Matt. 19:26).
- Upholding your faith
Faith does not make things easier; it makes things possible. The woman’s faith had to be tried by her struggle to reach to the clothing of Jesus Christ. The faith of Jarius had to go through the trial of interruption by the woman with the issue of blood and the message of the death of his child. On your journey through life, you may contend with many trials, uphold your faith and do not give up.
The details about the woman show that she did not touch the body of Jesus but his clothes; some translations would say the fringe or helm of his garment. Other people were standing close to our Lord and may have touched his hands or any other part of his body, but nothing happened. This woman touched just the clothes with faith, and her story changed.
What is your faith quotient when you come before the Lord in worship especially in the Holy Eucharist? To experience divine rescue, you should come with faith. The word of God says that without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would come to God must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Heb. 11:6).
May we always remember to stand out of the crowd, defy the crowd, and uphold our faith as these would bring about out divine rescue from the perpetual poverty of divine grace, the sickness of sin and eternal death which is the final separation from God.
Have a beautiful Sunday and a gracious week ahead.