Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Rabbi Abraham Heschel taught that humans express sorrow on three levels. On the lowest level, they cry. On the next level, they keep silence. And on the highest level, they turn their sorrow into song. Music gives grief an outlet. For this reason the gospel today notes flute players beside the death bed of the Jewish maiden.
But is the girl really dead? The evangelist wants to show that there is no room for the death of a believer when Jesus, the author of life, is present. It would be like trying to reserve a corner of darkness in a room filled with light. Jesus only has to say the word and the apparently lifeless rises to attention.
We live in a time when death has lost some of its sting. People openly talk of death as a blessing when its alternatives harbor great suffering or nearly unconscious existence. Of course, pain and unconsciousness only indicate impending death. Where Jesus gives new life, there is vigor not misery. His cure of the official’s daughter prefigures the resurrection of the dead at the end of time when Jesus will lift up all his followers to ever more abundant life.