Tuesday: 5 February, 2013 –– 4th Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 12:1–4 / Mark 5:21–43
Life After Death
The raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead is one of several incidents in the Gospels where Jesus has power over physical death. This is incredible, and it surely meant great joy for the loved ones who had restored to them a life that had been lost. Yet I almost always think: the one raised back to life eventually died –– again. We cannot go to Israel today and ask Jairus’ daughter what it was like to die and come back to life.
The death-to-life stories in the Gospels are there to show that Jesus did manifest a power in his earthly ministry that is extraordinary. These stories also point to a greater reality: the rising from the dead that Jesus himself experienced –– except his was different in this crucial way: Jesus came back from the dead never to die again.
This is the resurrection he promises us. This is the hope of Christian Faith. This is what the writer to the Hebrews affirms: we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. This phrase follows the “Faith Hall of Fame” in the previous chapter of Hebrews (11), among whom are Noah.... Abraham.... Moses.... David.... Right now we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, and we call this the Communion of Saints. When the Sadducees were arguing about the resurrection, Jesus told them: God said.... “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”.... He is not God of the dead, but of the living (Mk 12:26b,27). Today we celebrate the reality of eternal life specifically with St Agatha.
So, we are not alone in this journey of faith. Yes, Jesus is with us.... to the end of the age (Mtt 28:20), but we are also part of a people of God that extends beyond time. Our hope is a life after death that is forever, and to encourage us we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.