Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 5:21-43/ 13 Sunday OT
In Marks gospel there are two story’s intertwined. One about the 12 year old daughter of Jairus and the other of the woman hemorrhaging for twelve years. Jairus tells Jesus that his daughter is near death and asks that he come to her and lay his hands upon her that she might be healed. In the hemorrhaging woman she has tried everything in search for a cure and hopes that touching Jesus she might be cured. We are told first of Jairus’s plea, then we are told the details of the woman’s encounter. An interesting point about the story is that the afflicted woman has been suffering for 12-years. That is the same as the the age of the young girl. That immediately hints that the two story’s might be related, yet each story is somewhat described independently.The content of one story on the surface does not rely on the other. Much can be interpreted first from the woman who has been suffering for twelve years.She has suffered for a long time and she has tried many times to find a cure. Her suffering has taken all that she has financially. Since her ailment involved blood and she was part of a Jewish society it also isolated her socially. Her bleeding would have made her ritually unclean and would have barred her from the synagogue , it would have made her an outcast for fear that if she touched someone they too would be considered unclean.In her healing much also can be learned. In her touching of Jesus it was likely the slightest of grazes. Even Jesus disciples were amazed that he even noticed. It was not her display of effort that mattered, many others were tugging at Christ; it was her deep sense of purpose.She reached out to Jesus for a reason and with great need. When he turned towards her she humbled herself, she approached him with a proper sense of attitude.Finally we learn that Jesus heals those who reach out to him: this woman was healed.
The story then reverts back to the twelve year old girl. Some one from Jairus’s household tells him “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Jesus tells Jairus to disregard the message and “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” In hearing of his daughters death Jairus must have had much faith to continue, that news could destroy the faith of just about anyone. The news is devastating. Though there were many people around Jesus only allows three to accompany him; Peter, James, and John.During the transfiguration only three accompanied Jesus to the mountain top, many times when Jesus does something important only the closest disciples accompany him.When they arrive at Jairus’s house, the scene is noisy; wailing and weeping as loud as they could. Certainly this was tragic and sorrowful event, but also much of this noise was part of cultural attitudes. Jesus tells them this child is not dead but sleeping and the crowds ridicule him. Would I not do the same? Jesus then takes the Father and Mother along with his three disciples into the house and says to the twelve year old girl”Talitha koum,” meaning “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl does arise and Jesus says give her something to eat. Giving the little girl food is proof they are not seeing a ghost!
As with the first story we see that Jesus responds to those who reach out to him, Jesus also responds to those who reach out to him on another’s behalf as Jairus did on behalf of his daughter.The second story also highlights that Jesus does not need a lot of commotion to respond. The LOUD wailing and weeping did nothing, Jesus responded to Jairus simple request. Also it was Jairus faith that was important, from the story one can guess just how strong that faith must have been!
Some points that might be missed in the story about Jairus and his little girl is who Jesus responds to.The easy thing to spot is that Jesus heals and responds to the little girl. The point that might be missed is that Jesus also brings healing to Jairus. He is the one that approaches Jesus, and maybe he really is the one that needs to be healed. His daughter is the one dying, he is also the one suffering. Might this be one of the reasons the gospel writer intertwined these two stories? In the hemorrhaging woman, she suffered a long time and was not near death. Why did Jesus not first heal the little girl and then go back to the woman? Perhaps it was to highlight that Jesus’s healing extends to the dead and to the living, that Jesus addresses death itself.When he called for the wailing and weeping to end, wasn’t that a request for a significant cultural change? Certainly after this story people continue to die, but it is through Christianity that we believe in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting; and that extends healing to both the Father and his daughter.