“Death Is Swallowed Up in Victory” (1 Cor 15:54)

by Edmond Lo
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

WISDOM 1:13-15; 2:23-24

2 CORINTHIANS 8:7, 9, 13-15

MARK 5:21-43

People my age usually would have encountered death in some way, shape, or form; if not directly and personally perhaps indirectly through other people, especially through those from the older generation. Time flies. More than five years have gone by since my mom passed away. The difficult experience of seeing her succumb slowly but surely to the power of death in the last few hours of her life is like a grey-colored video clip that continues to flash through my mind every now and then. While sad, the memory never fails to stir my heart with affection and admiration for my mom. More than just a naked portrayal of human frailty, what it shows is a mother who wasted no opportunity to teach her children, as any good mother would. In the very last moment of her life, she taught us how to summon all the courage and dignity as a person to battle the sting of death.

Is death invincible? Are we forever subject to its curse? My good mom, who tirelessly taught us and answered every question we asked as we grew up in her maternal care, somehow had to leave us without giving us an answer to these questions…

But the answers are already there in today’s gospel reading. In the Old Testament, a woman afflicted with a flow of blood was considered unclean. A man in contact with such a woman would contract her impurity and must be cleansed (cf. Lev 15:25-27). But not only did Jesus remain holy and pure when he was touched by the woman afflicted with hemorrhages, the woman was actually cured because of her physical encounter with Jesus – touching his cloak. The synagogue official’s daughter was already dead when Jesus arrived in his house together with Peter, James, and John; but she was restored to life. Jesus, from whom everything that lives receives life and because of whom we exist, is the “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev 17:14) who truly reigns over all creation, not death. He has overpowered all forms of human frailty. Death, to which my mom and all children of Adam and Eve must succumb, succumbs to him.

Praise the Lord, Jesus Christ! Because of him, we can follow St. Paul and the prophet Hosea to taunt death and chant with hope and joy, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)!