Monday, July 8, 2013
1) Opening prayer
through the obedience of Jesus,
your servant and your Son,
you raised a fallen world.
Free us from sin
and bring us the joy that lasts for ever.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 9,18-26
While Jesus was speaking to them, suddenly one of the officials came up, who bowed low in front of him and said, 'My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and her life will be saved.' Jesus rose and, with his disciples, followed him.
Then suddenly from behind him came a woman, who had been suffering from a haemorrhage for twelve years, and she touched the fringe of his cloak, for she was thinking, 'If only I can touch his cloak I shall be saved.' Jesus turned round and saw her; and he said to her, 'Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.' And from that moment the woman was saved.
When Jesus reached the official's house and saw the flute-players, with the crowd making a commotion, he said, 'Get out of here; the little girl is not dead; she is asleep.' And they ridiculed him. But when the people had been turned out he went inside and took her by the hand; and she stood up. And the news of this spread all round the countryside.
• Today’s Gospel takes us to meditate on two miracles of Jesus. The first one was in favour of a woman considered unclean because of an irregular haemorrhage which had been lasting for more than twelve years. The second one in favour of a girl who had just died. According to the mentality of that time, the person who touched blood or a corpse or dead body was considered unclean and whoever touched that person became unclean. Blood and death were factors of exclusion! This is why those two women were marginalized persons, excluded from the participation in the community. Whoever touched them became unclean, and therefore, would not be able to participate in the community, and therefore, could not relate with God. In order to be admitted to participate fully in the community, it was necessary to go through the rite of purification, prescribed by the norms of the law. Now, when curing the impurity of the woman, through faith, Jesus opens a new path toward God which does not depend anymore on the rites of purification, controlled by the priests. In resurrecting the girl, Jesus conquers the power of death and opens a new horizon to life.
• Matthew 9, 18-19: The death of the little girl. When Jesus was still speaking, behold an official of the place came to intercede for his daughter who has just died. He asks Jesus to go to impose his hands on her and, “she will live”. The official thinks that Jesus has the power to make his daughter rise from the dead. This is a sign of much faith in Jesus on the part of the father of the little girl. Jesus rises and goes with him, taking only his disciples. This is the starting point of both episodes which follow: the cure of the woman who had been suffering for the past twelve years from a haemorrhage, and the resurrection of the little girl. The Gospel of Mark presents both of these episodes, but with many details: the official was called Jarius and he was the president of the Synagogue. The little girl was not dead as yet, and she was twelve years old, etc. (Mk 5, 21-43). Matthew gives a briefer narration of the very lively one of Mark.
• Matthew 9, 20-21: The situation of the woman. While they were on the way to the official’s house, a woman who had been suffering for twelve years because of a irregular haemorrhage got close to Jesus seeking to be cured. Twelve years with a haemorrhage! This is why she was marginalized, excluded, because as we have said, at that time blood rendered the person impure. Mark says that the woman had spent all she had with doctors, but instead of improving her situation had become worse (Mk 5, 25-26) But she had heard some speak about Jesus (Mk 5, 27). This is why a new hope sprang in her. She told herself: “If I can just touch his clothes, I shall be saved”. The catechism of that time said: “If I touch his clothes I will remain impure”. The woman thinks exatly the contrary! This was a sign of great courage! A sign also that women were not in agreement with everything that the religious authority taught. The teaching of the Pharisees and of the Scribes did not succeed to control the thinking of the people. Thank God! The woman got close to Jesus from behind, she touched the end of his cloak and she was cured.
• Matthew 9, 22. The word of Jesus which enlightens. Jesus turns and seeing the woman declares: “Courage, my daughter your faith has saved you”. A brief phrase, but which makes us see three very important points: (1) In saying “my daughter”, Jesus accepts the woman in the new community which has formed around him. She was no longer excluded. (2) What she expected and believed takes place in fact. She was cured. This proofs that the catechism of the religious authority was not correct and that in Jesus was opened a new path which gave people the possibility of obtaining the purity which the law demanded and also to enter into contact with God. (3) Jesus recognizes that without the faith of this woman, He would not have been able to work the miracle. The cure was not a magic rite, but an act of faith.
• Matthew 9, 23-24: In the house of the official. After that Jesus goes to the house of the official. Seeing the agitation of those who were mourning because of the death of the little girl, he asks everybody to get out from the room. And he says: “The little girl is not dead, she is sleeping!” People laugh, because they know how to distinguish when a person sleeps or when she is dead. Death was for them a barrier that nobody could go beyond. It is the laughter of Abraham and of Sarah, that is, of those who do not succeed to believe that nothing is impossible for God (Gn 17, 17; 18, 12-14; Lk 1, 27). The words of Jesus still have a very deep significance. The situation of the communities at the time of Matthew seemed to be in a situation of death. Even though they heard said, “It is not death, you are asleep! Wake up!”
• Matthew 9, 25-26: The resurrection of the little girl. Jesus does not give any importance to the laughter of the people. He waits for everyone to get out of the house. Then he enters, takes the little girl by the hand and she gets us. Mark keeps the words of Jesus: “Talita kúmi!” which mean: “Little girl, I tell you to get up!” (Mk 5,41). The news spread throughout that region. The people believed that Jesus is the Lord of life who overcomes death.
4) Personal questions
• Today, which are the categories of persons who feel excluded from participating in the Christian community? Which are the factors which cause the exclusion of so many persons and render life difficult for them in the family and in society?
• “The little girl is not dead. She sleeps!” “She is not dead! You are sleeping! Wake up! This is the message of today’s Gospel. What does it tell me? Am I one of those who laugh?
5) Concluding Prayer
I shall praise you to the heights, God my King,
I shall bless your name for ever and ever.
Day after day I shall bless you,
I shall praise your name for ever and ever. (Ps 145,1-2)