God made us in the image of his own nature, and death is not part of God’s nature. Death came into the world, we are told, because of our pride, because of the Devil’s envy. The devil, and the devil is in all of us, is envious of God’s power and we all at times want to be gods in our own little kingdoms.
Hades, the underworld, the place of the dead, or Satan, holds no power on earth wherever God’s spirit is found. Those who are partners of Satan are part of what the late Pope John Paul II called, ‘the culture of death’, a culture with no future except death and nothingness. In the gospel, in contrast, Jesus shows us a culture of life. In the face of disease and death, Jesus offers the possibility of a culture of life.
Simply nothing impressed Jesus so much as faith. The faith of Jairus, whose twelve year old daughter is at the point of death, and the faith of the woman whose life blood is haemorrhaging away is enough to move Christ to action. The woman who furtively touches the hem of Jesus’ garment has a simple, almost a superstitious faith. She has an unpleasant complaint and one which would mean that she was ritually unclean always and socially ostracised.
Jesus does not despise any of this but rather he helps her to have the courage to approach him in a personal way, so that she is not only cured of her ailment but also of her fear and isolation and she is given back the dignity which befits one made in the image of God, and her peace is restored. ‘My daughter’, he said, ‘your faith has restored you to health, go in peace and be free from your complaint’.
The faith of Jairus has to do battle with the silence and the disbelief, even the condemnation of the crowd. ‘Your daughter is dead, why put the master to any further trouble’? To this Jesus replies, with the instruction which is so common in the New Testament. ‘Do not be afraid’. He adds ‘only have faith’. He raised the child, or young woman as she was, in that culture, from the sleep of death and to their astonishment she walks about. The sleep of death is interrupted. A French writer called Peguy once wrote that there is a little child called ‘Hope’ asleep within each of us who must be woken up regularly, made to get up and walk about.
Faith in the God who champions life, can make the longest night, the darkest valley open out into the morning of resurrection. The culture of life which Christ preached, banishes fear, and for those who have faith, death has no power over them anymore.