13th of the Year, 27 Jun 2021
The Gospel Reading for today , is rather a long passage which, as so often, shows Our Lord`s desire for wholeness of life for all who seek to follow him and it is unusual in that it contains, as it were, one story inside another. What is more we find the story repeated in both Matthew`s and Luke`s Gospel making it a “core reading” for Christians that we may understand both the compassion and love of Christ, his healing power and our need for faith,
As so often Jesus is surrounded by crowds of people anxious to listen to him after he had crossed to the other side of the lake when in what seems to be a mixture of hope and desperation. The leader of a synagogue, one Jairus by name, prostrated himself before Jesus, pleading with him, saying:`My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.` St Mark tells us that Jesus went with him and that a large crowd followed him. Note too that Jairus asks Jesus to lay his hands on the little girl – a sign both of authority and healing power based on the inner faith and hope of the desperate father. Later on in the story we are told that the girl is 12 so on the threshold of womanhood.
Hardly had Jesus moved with Jairus to go towards his home when a woman, in contrast older than her actual years by reason of great suffering through having a haemorrhage that had plagued her for twelve years but who was also in a state of great poverty having spent all her resources on long and painful treatment which had been useless. If that had not been enough to suffer she was, by jewish law ritually unclean, by reason of her bleeding, and would have been regarded as an outcast of society and forbidden to worship in the synagogue or the Temple! She was literally almost drained of life and utterly exhausted but had faith that Jesus had the power to save her. Mark relates that pushing through the crowd came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak having told herself, `If I can even touch his clothes I shall be well again.` The source of her bleeding was staunched instantly so that she realised in herself that she had been cured of her complaint.
We might be a touch amused at Our Lord`s comment when he realised that power had gone out of him and, turning to the crowd, he asked, `Who touched my clothes ?` Anybody could have touched his clothes and , in a crowd, many would have done so indeliberately – and could not have avoided it! His disciples said, `You see how the crowd is pressing around you and yet you say, “Who touched me ?”. Of course, he would have known who touched him but wanted to elicit a response from the woman and he continued to look around. The woman came forward, frightened and trembling we are told, because she realised what had happened to her and then she fell at the feet of Jesus to tell him the whole truth. Since the truth sets us free we are not surprised at the Lord`s response: `My daughter` he said `your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.`
Even as Jesus finished speaking to the woman, who had interrupted his progress to the hoe of Jairus the synagogue ruler, some people arrived from Jairus` house saying to the synagogue leader, `Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble ?` But Jesus overheard what they had to say and addressed Jairus, saying: `Do not be afraid; only have faith.` Clearly he continued to the house but allowed only Peter and James and John, the very three of the disciples who witnessed the Lord`s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and her were present, asleep just a few foot from him, as he went through the agony leading up to his betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper! Arriving at the house they were met by a crowd weeping and wailing without restraint – doubtless not only the bereaved members of the family but the then commonplace professional mourners! Jesus, presumably with Jairus and the three disciples went and the Lord asked, `Why all this commotion and crying ? The child is not dead, but asleep. Mark records that the crowd laughed at him so he turned them all out except for the child`s father and mother and his three companions and they went into the place where the child lay. He touched the child`s hand and said to her, in Aramaic, `Talitha, kum!` which means, `Little girl, I tell you to get up.` We are told that she got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. Again we are told that those present were overcome with astonishment, and that Jesus ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and then in such an ordinary and practical way told them to give her something to eat. Can this be another sign that He, Jesus is the Bread of Life ?
Such profound happenings in such a short period showing the healing power and compassion of Jesus and his response to individual faith, first of all to Jairus who had fallen at his feet begging him to come and touch his sickly child that she might be restored to health and to the shy and embarrassed woman who crept behind him in the crowd and touched the hem of his garment in the hope that her haemorrhage of twelve years would be cured and her hope and faith was fulfilled and she, like Jairus`s daughter was likewise given back her life, freed from being an outcast and owning up to what she had done, likewise fell at the Lord`s feet.
Both show faith and adoration and could it be more than a coincidence that the period of twelve years is significant for both the females ?
The other scripture passages for today are also very significant pointers for Christians of any period:
Wisdom 1:13: `Death was not God`s doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living,
2 Corinthians chapter 8: In this chapter St. Paul urges the Christians of the Church in Corinth to fulfil their promises of generosity having cited the example of the Church in Macedonia who reflected in their iives the generosity and self-giving of Jesus by giving generously of their resources to the Mother Church of Jerusalem thus emphasising our duty of mutual support and encouragement as part of the Body of Christ which is his Church.
As a result of the wonderful teaching of Jesus that we have received in today`s Gospel passage we might well go away pondering during the week Ps. 29 verses 11-13: The Lord listened and had pity. The Lord came to my help. For me you have changed my mourning into dancing. O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever. Adding the response: I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me. Amen