Today’s readings bring us face to face with the mystery of suffering and death. The reading from Wisdom makes it clear in general that God does not will death as man’s final end, but the Gospel of Mark makes it even more clear that God-in-Christ has come to overthrow the tyranny of suffering and death; and the dead girl and bleeding woman both serve as particular signs of his universal will to heal fallen man.
Note that in both cases, the divine ‘universal will to heal’ humanity awaits the human response of faith that opens the door of freedom to allow God to invade the world in, with and through us.
Lover of the Broken
Note also in the Gospels that Jesus loves to hang with the infirm, the sinners, the possessed, the sick and lame and blind and deaf — his core-identity is God-saves, so being near to the lost, the broken-hearted, the dead, and bringing them new life is his core-passion.
As I approach my time teaching seminarians, I was struck by this quote a dear friend shared with me last week from a former bishop of Des Moines, Maurice Dingman. He was reflecting on the gift of his own priesthood: “I can think of no better ministry than to be where there is life and death, struggles and dreams, the search for meaning, crowds of people, and children, celebrations and sometimes weeping.”
This is the heartbeat of a parish priest’s ministry, to be Christ joying in being pressed-on by his broken, infirm people. Just as he was in today’s Gospel.
Let’s pray every day that our beloved priests burn with this Christ-passion that they were mystically marked with on the day of their Ordination, and feel welling up within them his longing to elicit faith from those who daily live lives of quiet desperation.