MARK 5, 21-43
21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lake.
22 Then the president of the synagogue came up, named Jairus, and seeing him, fell at his feet
23 and begged him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her that she may be saved and may live.’
24 Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
25 Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years;
26 after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she had spent all she had without being any the better for it; in fact, she was getting worse.
27 She had heard about Jesus, and she came up through the crowd and touched his cloak from behind, thinking,
28 ‘If I can just touch his clothes, I shall be saved.’
29 And at once the source of the bleeding dried up, and she felt in herself that she was cured ofher complaint.
30 And at once aware of the power that had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’
31 His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you; how can you ask, “Who touched me?” ‘
32 But he continued to look all round to see who had done it.
33 Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth.
34 ‘My daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free of your complaint.’
35 While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the president of the synagogue to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; why put the Master to any further trouble?’
36 But Jesus overheard what they said and he said to the president of the synagogue, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’
37 And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.
38 So they came to the house of the president of the synagogue, and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly.
39 He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’
40 But they ridiculed him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay.
41 And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’
42 The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At once they were overcome with astonishment,
43 and he gave them strict orders not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.
New Jerusalem Bible
FAITH THAT TOUCHES EVOKES JESUS’ POWER
In the longer Sunday passage Mark weaves two miracle stories together using the literary form of chiasm. This device of using “sandwich narratives” appears as Mark’s signature style of doing theological or faith reflection. The story of Jairus’ daughter restored to life form the pieces of bread sandwiching the meaty centre of the woman with haemorrhage healed.
While one story clarifies the other the heart of the message lies in the woman touching Jesus’ cloak evoking healing power from him [vv 27-29]. Both stories prefigure Jesus’ victory over death. Jairus’ daughter raised prefigures Jesus’ own resurrection from death. The woman with haemorrhage healed prefigures the death of Jesus as a liberating act of “cleansing” the sin of humankind.
The Wisdom reading provides the Old Testament reasoning for Christ’s victory over death , prefigured in the gospel miracles. What God has created is good [Wis 1, 14]. Humans created in God’s image are immortal even if the devil through death alienates humans from God [Wis 2, 24].
In its original context the Responsorial Psalm [R] invites the nation to give thanks to God. Death in Jerusalem saw new life restored and the desecrated Temple due to Antiochus Epiphanes was rebuilt during the time of Maccabees in 164 BC. For our Sunday celebration the Psalm invites us to celebrate the victory Christ has won over death thereby rescuing humans and creation from destruction.
JESUS’ HEALING SAVES AND RESTORES
Both miracle stories proclaim God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ. The woman with a flow of blood would be labelled “unclean” in Jesus’ time and cast out from society. Further she would have violated cultural boundaries of purity rules concerning the body by touching a man in public. “Frightened and trembling” owing to shame and transgressing legal purity rules she expects rejection in pleading before Jesus [v 33]. Instead Jesus praises her for her faith healing her both from the complaint of haemorrhage and social ostracism. On the way to heal Jairus’ daughter Jesus heals the woman his surrogate “daughter” in his family.
Just as the woman suffering for 12 years was healed by touching Jesus’ cloak, so Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter aged 12 years to life by touching and “taking her by the hand.” Likewise Jesus – by telling the family to give food to the girl – restores the girl and incorporates her into her family and community through the healing.
THE HEALED BRINGS GOD’S GOODNESS TO OTHERS
Celebrating God’s goodness and healing each Sunday Christ’s disciples are also to be instruments in restoring the wellbeing and health of others in the community and beyond . Sharing generously our resources we continue Paul’s work of bringing material relief to the churches and others in need. Christ’s disciples are to be motivated in this work of “God’s mercy” owing to the riches received through Christ’s emptying himself as a human and dying for humankind.
Reginald H Fuller, Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. The Liturgical Press. 1984, 2006.
Bruce J Malina and Richard L Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels. 2nd Edition. Fortress Press 2003.
We Walk By Faith
Lyrics: Henry Alford
Presentation of Gifts
Healer of Our Every Ill
Jesus, Heal Us
Bless the Lord, My Soul
Sing of the Lord’s Goodness
1 = 1st reading
P = Responsorial Psalm
2 = 2nd Reading
G = Gospel
Jesus Christ does not leave people in the same situation that he encounters them.
How would the readings, songs, and celebration
motivate me in
allowing myself to be touched by Christ’s healing love, and
restoring me to others through sharing myself and resources?