Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom was chosen to introduce the gospel reading in which Jesus restores the daughter of Jairus to life. So our first reading is a reflection on the reality of death, but from a particular perspective. Since the Book of Wisdom was one of the last books of the Old Testament to be written—perhaps just fifty years before the birth of Christ, it builds on a well-developed theological tradition.
In the Book of Wisdom, death is not so much physical death that marks the end of natural life, but spiritual death that distances us from God. Sin and death are forces working together to crush the good. That’s the meaning behind the last line of the reading that they who belong in the company of the devil experience death. This discussion of death foreshadows what St. Paul will later say, that death is brought into the world as the partner of sin
In this light, the miracle Jesus performs in the gospel is a sign of how Jesus has overcome this power of death over us through his resurrection.
The second reading from St Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthian church was originally intended as what we would call today a “fundraising” letter. Paul is asking for financial support for the Jerusalem church which is on hard times because of a food shortage in the city. Note the motivation Paul appeals to: ca we are to model our generosity on the pattern that Jesus demonstrated in offering himself for our sake. Yet in deference to the needs of the prospective donors, Paul is not asking for the impossible, but just a response measured by prudence and generosity.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.