If you live long enough there is a certainty you will experience the death of someone close to you. It is a condition of humanity since our first parents were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Each person deals with the grief of death in a myriad of ways, some even blaming God for the pain they endure when someone passes from this life.
The first reading comes to us from the book of Wisdom which dispels the notion of God being responsible for death. “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” The concept is so clear and descriptive it is hard to fathom how someone could blame God for the death of a person. If not outright blaming him, then, suggesting at the very least, his unresponsiveness is akin to condoning death. How do people come to that conclusion?
The Gospel reading from Mark can shed some light on the subject. We are told of the story of two healing miracles, one having to do with the daughter of Jairus who was thought to be dead, and the unnamed woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. Both, had been cured by Jesus. Now, it is not known why these two were healed by Jesus, nor are we aware they were saved so they could go on and do some great things in the world. We just don’t know. What we do know, is they were cured.
By curing the daughter from death and the woman who was living a kind of death, fulfills the what Wisdom has taught for millennia—God does not rejoice in the destruction of the living. Jesus’ mission has been the opposite of destruction to the point he allowed his own destruction on the cross. The complicated concept of death cannot be addressed adequately without simultaneously speaking about evil.
The Book of Wisdom also teaches the human being was created to be imperishable, the image of God. The next line is crucial, for it explains evil in a way we are not accustom to hearing. “But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.”
Evil therefore is the source of death– plain and simple. There are two types of death, the final death like Jairus’ daughter was experiencing and the ongoing death the woman with the bleeding was experiencing. For Christians, the final death is something not to be overly feared because of the redemption Jesus offers, so long as our life is graced and absent of great moral evil.
What is to be highly feared is the ongoing death, day to day, due to evil. It often times is explained away a not a big deal, or rationalized as some good. Each time what seems to be a small transgression or infraction introduces us to an ongoing death. If not rectified by forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession, our lives are that much closer to what God despises; the destruction of our life. Little by little, it does occur, until there is a point when it is the final hour. No turning back and our only company will be someone we are quite familiar with, the devil and his minions.
The message today is simple. Evil brings death. St. John Paul II wrote extensively about the “Culture of Death” the modern world experiences. By changing the word “death” for “evil”, meaning the “Culture of Evil”, we might better understand the pressing issue more acutely. Evil in any form we experience on a daily basis must be seen as a condition which brings about death and must confronted constantly.
The culture is indeed filled with evil, reject it and live.