Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 — because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things that they might exist, and 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. for God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.
The word used for “incorruption” in the Greek Septuagint is aphtarsia, meaning basically “free of physical decay,” the “everlasting life” we speak of in the Creed. The oposite of that is our present corruptible life, the one we inherited for our father Adam. The first sin — the envy of a fallen angel — caused the world to be infected with death. Ever since that day the world in now bleeding life. Nature wants to follow the way of Logos but evil pulls the whole creation in a different direction. God told that much to Adam in Genesis 3:17 …
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.
Remember the “eat of it” part because we will find it again later.
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 — Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us — see that you excel in this gracious work also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
These words –I assume you have read them carefully– come from Saint Paul, a man who personally met the Logos on the way from Jerusalem to Damascus and was convinced –after seeing the Resurrected Messiah– that mankind was destined for everlasting life, (for aphtarsia, incorruptibility,) after going through the vicissitudes of this present life. Paul presents the Corinthians with this idea: poverty is an opportunity for mercy. We humans were ignorant, poor, and corrupt until Jesus met us and poured all we needed to be saved, including his own life. From the Cross, life flowed from the divine vessel into our empty vessel. We are to imitate Him who saved us by doing the same with others. That is the wisdom of the Cross that we are supposed to seek eagerly. The first order of charity is the Church, the way. The second is the Gospel, the truth; the third is life with all that it entails: sustenance, love, community. We are not doing anything good to others that Jesus did not do to us before. Remember God is good and He always is a benefactor.
1 John 4:19 — We love because He first loved us.
A girl brought back to life and a woman healed
Mark 5:21-24 — And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and besought him, saying, “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.” And he went with him.
Notice Jesus is near the seashore after crossing to the other side. The crowd surrounds him as usual, they all want to see what he does and hear what he says. A man, a member of the synagogue, begs him to help his child who is at the point of death. Jesus and the crowd start moving towards his home. Jairus is convinced that if only Jesus lays his hands on the little girl, she will be healed. One more time please notice: Jesus is on his way to heal the young woman by his touch when some other woman touches him.
Mark 5:25-29 — And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
The poor woman was following Jesus in close proximity as the crowd thronged around her. The touching of the garments is an important part. There was a teaching that more or less said that “if a man was to learn all wisdom, and understand all that could be understood, he would only have touched the edge of the garment of the wisdom of God.” The woman was not supposed to be there, she was ritually impure and she had to stay away from everyone. The poor woman most likely was given a divorce by her husband and had to fend for herself. When she touches Jesus, her twelve years of pain and emptiness connect with an eternity of divine joy and plenty. Human condition makes contact with the treasures of God’s incorruptible life. She is healed instantly.
Mark 5:30-34 —And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Jairus had worshipped Jesus earlier, now the poor woman falls prostrated before him, fearing perhaps that the crowd will stone her for her blatant violation of an important rule of the Law. She falls before Jesus and confesses everything. Consider her humility. She was sure that Jesus could cure her, and it happened. Now she humbly begs for her life, confessing her grievous condition before Jesus, before the disciples, and the astonished crowd. She finds mercy because the depth of her humility meets the heights of God’s mercy. The valley is filled and –remember Paul’s words– the infinite joy of God erases all those sad years of infirmity. She is no longer bleeding life, she is fully alive again.
Mark 5:35-43 — While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But 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. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Tálitha cúmi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
The age of Jairus daughter coincides with the duration of the woman’s suffering: 12 years. She is about to be received in the community as a young adult, her Bat Mitzvah. The poor woman is about to go to the temple to offer a sacrifice for her miraculously recovered physical purity. The woman has been sick for as long as the little girl has been alive. Another crowd is noisily wailing outside the house because the young girl has died. They laugh at Jesus’ words but soon enough they laugh no more because the girl is up and walking after Jesus simply takes her hands and asks her to get up. Then Jesus asks her parents to give her something to eat. When the resurrected Jesus visits the disciples, he also asks for something to eat.
Luke 24:41 — And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” So they gave him a piece of broiled fish.
I see a sign of the restoration of the world in that simple act of feeding the resurrected. One day, those living on earth will have to feed those who come back from the grave. Eating together is a familiar, simple act of communion. Food is no longer obtained by toil and suffering, the curse is over and the Garden of Eden, the garden that Logos planted, is opened again for all who want to eat from the Tree of Life. Compare it with this other promise of Jesus:
Luke 12:35-37 — Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.
The “faithful servant” of Matthew 24:45 is “feeding the laborers at the proper time” when his Master comes. His life is lived in careful imitation of God’s mercy, knowing well that any losses will be evened out when the Master comes because He won’t be surpassed in generosity: after finding his servants on duty, he will ask them to sit at the table and will serve them Himself. Charity will last forever because God is eternal.