There is a distinct advantage to living in the United States in the year 2021 rather than living in the Holy Land at the time of Jesus.
Today most of us have far more than just the basics of life. We have an abundance of food, clothing, and housing. We have appliances and digital equipment beyond the imagination of people who lived 2,000 years ago. We can communicate almost instantly with people anywhere in the world. Our way of travel is not limited to our feet or a horse.
However, in this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 5:21-43) we hear of two incidents that show the advantages available to those who lived when and where Jesus first proclaimed the Gospel.
In the reading, we learn of a woman who was freed of a disease beyond the ability of any doctor to cure. She had suffered from hemorrhages for 12 years and exhausted all her money on seeking relief. In desperation, she pushed her way through a crowd to get close to Jesus. She believed that she only had to touch his clothing and she would be cured.
Her hand touched his garments and “immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.”
Imagine being able to go to Jesus with cancer, heart ailments, Alzheimer’s, COVID-19, and the other diseases that ravage the human body and have them instantly cured by simply touching his clothing. What a blessing!
In Sunday’s Gospel, we also hear of a synagogue official named Jairus, whose 12-year-old daughter was dying. Despite the condemnation that he would receive by going to a teacher viewed with suspicion by the religious authorities, Jairus approached Jesus.
Jesus responded to that father’s plea for help and set out toward the family home. Even when he heard the girl had already died, Jesus continued on his way. He entered the room where the dead girl was lying, he took her by the hand, and commanded her, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” And she did!
Jesus raised the girl from death and restored her to the arms of her loving parents. Imagine being able to go to Jesus and to ask him to save our loved ones from death.
Those incidents in Sunday’s Gospel are not proclaimed to point out the advantages that people had who lived at the time of Jesus. They reveal what Jesus can do today.
Jesus can heal us from the disease of sin that deforms our dignity as people made in the image of God and warps our relationships with others and with the Lord.
Jesus can heal us from thinking that our lives have no meaning or purpose, that they simply bleed away like the blood that drained from the woman with hemorrhages.
Jesus can also save us from death, not physical death that comes to all people, but from spiritual death. Even the daughter of Jairus eventually died, not at 12 but certainly some years later.
Jesus can raise our spirits from the everlasting death of eternal loneliness and darkness that come because of sin.
Some of those who lived at the time of Jesus had the advantage of receiving physical healing and a postponement of their eventual day of death.
Those living today have the advantage of benefiting from the saving power of Jesus Christ made present in the Sacraments of the Church. We can receive forgiveness of our sins and the opportunity to start anew. We can receive the life-giving Body and Blood of Christ. We can be assured that if we are faithful to the Lord, there will be eternal life after the final beat of our heart.
There is definitely an advantage to living today!
© 2021 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski