Homily for Ordinary Sunday 13B

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2009 at 11:32 pm

It is the antithesis of the emergency services,
that you stop in the middle of a callout
to help someone else.

If you possibly can, you go where you are called.

The idea that you stop mid-callout is unheard-of.
That it should be someone old, or at least, older
makes no sense, if you are doing the maths,
and a 12 year-old lies dying.

Yet Jesus this morning stops.
He asks.
He talks.
He speaks healing.

Not once, but twice.

In the face of the laughter of mourners, darkest sarcasm and scorn,
Jesus speaks life.

To a woman, at least in her middle years
and to a girl not yet a woman,
both noted by the gospel-writer as suffering on one hand from her condition,
and in being,
twelve years old.

Jesus challenges our compartmentalising mission.
In pursuing the salvation of youth,
Jesus does not ignore a woman much older.
Quite the opposite,
he notices her slightest intentional touch.

As I’ve written in the Trumpet,
hers is not just a physical, but a social condition.

If we fail to see this, we do not see the fullness
of the power and symbolism of what is going on.
When women bled, they became in Jewish Law, ritually “unclean”.
Such was the power of the processes of life and procreation,
society placed restrictions of women’s contacts
and their integration in the everyday.

This woman had then been ritually unclean for twelve years.
Money gone, friends and family nowhere to be seen,
desperate, she dares to break the Law that keeps her isolated
by touching Jesus’ clothes.

Making him unclean, according to the Law.

Our Lord does not pass by, he notices.
He knows.
And of course he does not let the letter of the Law
overrule the law of compassion.
In a number of encounters,
we can read a bit of life case law in Jesus’ interactions,
his conversations with Pharisees and other wise persons.

Jesus is naïve enough to be clear
that those in front of him in need are important,
and that the law of compassion trumps all other laws.
That’s the message of the Good Samaritan parable too.

He is able to know when the immediate is also the important.
And to speak hope, when a cause seems lost.

In both the account of his healing,
and in his raising from the apparently dead,
Jesus pronounces, gently but emphatically,
God’s power:
in the face of human marginalisation,
in the face of human cynicism,
in the face of both those who weep, and in perverse grief laugh,
after news of a young girl’s death…
Jesus speaks life.

We have the very words of Christ this morning:
the Aramaic talitha kum
speaks to us in Jesus’ own words.

We are invited to rise
from death, from despair, from our mourning, our cynicism,
to become more attune to what is actually important,
and to be naïve enough to trust
that Christ’s love
and Christ’s Body, the Church,
is broad enough to be able to hold us,
even when the urgency of special intention – towards youth, towards whoever,
comes to the fore.

Christ calls us to arise,
and to be part of the compassionate, aware, life-giving Church of God.


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