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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

"Little girl, I tell you to get up!"


Today we are invited to marvel at one of the most dramatic and amazing of the Lord’s miracles – the raising back to life of the daughter of Jairus. The story is told with a level of emotional realism: the calm faith but dreadful fear of Jairus, the servants who bring the news of his daughter’s death, the calm reassurance of Jesus and even the laughter of the servant who mock Jesus – all these make this a story that can engage us and speak to us. And what it says is something profound: all the miracles of the Lord proclaim the Kingdom of God – the world the way God wants it to be. God does not want us to die: death is not part of God’s plan for us. This is reinforced by the unfamiliar first reading from the book of Wisdom, which opens our listening to God’s Word today with the dramatic phrase: “Death was not God’s doing.” God created us to live forever, and the raising of Jairus’ daughter to life is a vivid and outstanding proclamation of this truth.


First Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
This reading is hard work – be warned! It is not too long, but the language is very dense and the concepts are quite profound. Also, the little words have a huge impact in this reading – just imagine missing out each “no” and “not” and see what it would do to the reading! Proclaiming this effectively is all about emphasis: each line has a word that has to be stressed – as, for example, the first line: “Death was NOT God’s doing.” Watch out for line 3, where you get the rather odd expression: “To be”. Remember Hamlet! This is all about existence and life – God created all to exist and to live. Hades is a Greek name for the underworld, the kingdom of death – make sure you emphasise that death is not all-powerful on earth. The last four lines begin with a wonderful statement: “God DID make man imperishable” – spend a while thinking about what exactly this is saying, and how it is Good News for your congregation today!

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7.9.13-15
One of the themes that crops up quite frequently in Saint Paul’s letters is his appeal for money that the different Church communities are asked to give for the support of the needy in the community – and this is one of them. Saint Paul, in a way, first flatters the Corinthians, by praising their eloquence, understanding and keenness, but he quickly points out that this means they also need to be the most generous! Paul is being very reasonable and practical in this passage, so the reader’s voice should follow the same tone. There are two tricky sentences in this passage: the first, when Paul talks about Jesus’ richness and poverty – just take your time and see the verbal balancing game Paul is playing. The second is the final scripture quote – again just take your time, and realize that Saint Paul is saying something very encouraging – that because we help others, if the time comes when we need help (= gathering little) we will not go short.


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