Why do we follow Christ, obey his teachings and maintain and grow in our love for him as we seek him? Because He is the author of life and we can find life no where else but in Him.
This leads us to the fascinating backstory to today’s gospel, particularly regarding Jairus’ daughter. This girl was dead and Jesus brings her back to life. Why is this story so important that it ends up in the first and shortest of all Gospels?
Let’s ask a question: What is the most precious gift you can receive? Regardless of monetary value, it is life because without the gift of life nothing else has any value. This is a universal understanding. Huge amount of money and whole industries, many of them unethical, are created based on that one fact.
What do horror movies use as the device to bring fear? The death of the character on the screen. So that which brings death brings terror and fear, that which brings life brings the greatest of all values.
The next question is who is the ultimate authority when it comes to life? The answer to that question is the key to everything we do as followers of Christ.
If you look at the prologue of John you will see that the motive for writing the Gospel is that they had found the one who could guarantee them eternal life: Jesus. They cite no other motive, but in Christ there is life, life to the full.
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In the sixth chapter of John, everyone leaves when Jesus says that those who eat His body and drink His blood will have life within them, the apostles alone stay because although they did not understand Jesus’ teaching, they still wanted eternal life.
So in Christ we have the promise of eternal life, if, with this grace, we stay faithful to Him. There is no gift as precious as this one gift.
Therefore, the one who has authority over life and even over death will be the ultimate authority. He will be more sought after than any other. This brings us to today’s gospel. It is not just a miracle we see in which Jesus brings Jarius’ daughter to life. He has demonstrated authority over life and death, which is something no one else has. He demonstrates himself to be the greatest authority. This is why this miracle is so important, it is not just demonstrating his power, it is also establishing his authority.
However, in our world, technology has given another authority over life, in fact it is an ersatz authority, but an authority never the less. The current culture wars are in fact at the deepest level the conflict between the two authorities over life. One authority makes humanity like gods and the other authority is God.
One authority makes humans feel they have authority over life and the other authority promises us eternal life if we remain humble before Him and seek Him.
To which authority do we adhere. If you look carefully the human authority over life is not only a false authority, the type of life it seeks to perpetuate is that life which is perfect in the eyes of the human. Therefore, any human who has any kind of physical, mental or any other defect is one that the human authority wants to prevent from being born. Whereas, in Christ, we have a total respect for his choice of life and obedience to Him in life.
One authority, the human one says to submit to it, and it will ensure you have earthly life for as long as possible providing you stay in its good graces. When you are no longer in its good grace for such things as embracing the divine authority or challenging the human authority on its unethical behavior in the name of technology over life, it becomes a tyranny that seeks to deny you your life. The other authority, Divine in Christ, promises eternal life for all seek it in Him and all who seek Him find it.
Conflict begins when you realize you cannot submit to both authorities. This is something that Jesus teaches. No one can serve two masters.
We are disciples of Christ and so we follow his teachings because He is the way, the truth and the life to experience the fullness of life and life eternally. If we seek Christ no one and nothing can take this away from us.
However, the world leads us to be focused on the here and now. It will promise life for now, and will try to promise life eternally, all we have to do is to reject Christ or water down His teachings. The world is an ersatz authority and can ultimately promise nothing at all.
This is what Jesus demonstrates. He offers what no one else can offer so if we seek what he alone offers we can find it only in Him.
This means changing our priorities, our life and our focus so that we may seek Him for He alone promises life to all who seek it in Him. This is why we turn from sin and seek to do His will above all.
There is even more here. Just as Jesus enters the room and jokes that the girl is only sleeping as He is mocked by those around her, He demonstrates that He has a deeper understanding of reality than those around Him. This is why we listen to Him. This is why we turn from sin and follow Christ because the promise is life, and life to the full. No human today can guarantee us this, but many will try. Further, only one has established the authority. As you consider your discipleship in Christ in this rather unique time in our country and as we get ready to celebrate our independence day, let us remember what we are really about as Catholics. Turning from sin, seeking Christ and following Him into eternal life for only He can guarantee it.