by Fr Ncamiso Vilakati

Last week Sunday, was the Feast of the nativity of St John the Baptist. The Church not only invited us to reflect on the life of the saint which was of simplicity, but also the people around him at his birth. One particular person for me worth the mention is his father Zachariah, who named him John. The effects of him saying his name is John is that he was healed from his inability to speak which had been impeded sorely for his lack of faith. Immediately after the utterance of the words; “His name will be John” we heard that Zachariah the priest was able to speak again.

As a continuation of last week, we see again God rescuing us from our personal inabilities. He rescues us from our infirmities, our deaths by restoring us back to himself. In fact, I view the readings today as those that seek total restoration in God. Through listening to God’s word, Talitha Kum, like the little girl in the Gospel, we rise and become restored to our true self. We regain our ability to socialise freely after having been impeded by own haemorrhages of many years when God liberates us from this impairment. And once more we integrate ourselves to the community like the girl through the sign of sharing food. We acclaim him as we do in the gospel acclamation of today, by shouting out loud and saying: “Our Saviour Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life through the gospel”.

When we read the first reading; Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24, we get the sense of that which God is not. He is not the source of destruction and death but life. Referring to Genesis, the book of Wisdom is very clear on the goodness of God’s project for man. God has not created death, nor does he enjoy the ruin of the living. We are always embroiled with the question of the why ? Why me God? Why did you take my little child away, or my beautiful mother away? This statement complicates our faith so much that we forget that the nature of God is not destruction but restoration. We do not have a God of death but of life. He does not give up before the evil we carry within us, but starts from what is good in our hearts, because “the creatures of the world are healthy, there is no poison in them of death”. Therefore, it is up to us not to betray the trust of God, recognising ourselves always in need of his help and never setting ourselves on the side of evil, poisoning ourselves and those we come across in life.

The Gospel; Mark 5:21-43, affirms that the Word incarnate which is Christ Himself, that God is the source of life. When he utters the phrase “Talita kum” which is not a magic formula, but the invitation that the Lord continually addresses to us when life puts us down. He takes us by the hand and tells us: get up from your weak belief that you are not loved; get up when you feel discarded; get up if the pain has put you on your knees. In the case of the woman who has haemorrhage , the true miracle that Jesus performs does not concern her physical recovery, but the restoration of her dignity, freeing her from the social exclusion to which she was condemned because of her illness. For the past twelve years she had been segregated by society for they felt she was unclean to mingle with them. The most important thing is that she surrendered all to Him for she knew that her sickness could be healed by Jesus only for Jesus was continuing to manifest his Messianic secret. Therefore, when humanity surrenders, God continues to hope and work in us. Faced with the woman’s illness and the child’s death, the doctors and relatives think that there is nothing to do anymore, but Jesus tells us: “Do not be afraid, only have faith!”.

The second reading 2 Corinthians 8:7.9, 13-15; Paul sensitises the community of Corinth on the collection for the needy brothers of the Church of Jerusalem. To encourage them to carry out this work of good, it refers to the earthly life of Jesus, making us understand that the life of every Christian is above all the precious fruit of his death and resurrection. At the same time, as Jesus gave his whole self to take us away from the poverty of sin, we too are called to experience what riches can come from love for those in difficulty. If we really want to incarnate the Word we must not be people only of beautiful words or good intentions, but Christians capable of carrying out acts of concrete charity as is the flesh of Christ, dead and resurrected for us. Charity restores dignity and state of being towards other people.

It is my wish that as we sing the psalm, “I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me”, be an opportunity for a personal encounter with the Lord. Let this be a time of reflection that through our acts of charity, acts of altruism, bring us closer to him so he could restore us back to Himself. The Lord indeed will bring us from the netherworld and preserve us from going down into the pit of selfishness and total self-destruction. It is only not much that we have, but through closeness to God, we can be restored to him once more by clearly listening to the good news once more; “Talitha Kum”