Two woman


mk 5:21-43

Marks lengthy gospel about the hemorrhaging woman and the dying little girl is interesting on each account of healing, but you can not escape the comparisons of these intentionally interleaved stories. In the many comparisons that can be made, how Jesus is approached is one that can be considered.

 In the case of the little girl who is dying, Jesus is approached through her father who happens to be a synagogue official. With the older woman, she herself touches the robe of Jesus, Though the little girl has the more life threatening illness, she is dying, it is the older woman who is healed first. Might this be an indication that those who approach Christ directly gain the most advantage? The little girls father was an official at the synagogue, an institution that in a way intercedes on the behalf of people. Presenting prayers and petitions through a church or synagogue are heard, but isn’t a personal prayer the more direct route? Perhaps many think that their prayers will not be heard over the commotions of life, both the father and the woman compete for Jesus’s attention amongst large crowds. The old woman’s touching of Jesus’s cloak is a mere graze, yet Jesus knows exactly who she is and does indeed respond. That graze is much like a silent prayer. The father of the little girl approaches Jesus by distancing himself from the crowd and by very audibly speaking to him. Loud enough for both the Lord and , and for that audience to hear too;though note that noise does not get a swifter response. It is the direct encounter that is best, not the formal. So many speak to God through those flashy intermediates, notice what happens at the little girls house where the people are wailing and banging on instruments. That noise is intended to get Gods attention, and what does the Lord do? He tells them to be quiet. A humble and contrite heart the Lord will not spurn.

While reading this gospel account, I also happened to read some article about the Magdalene laundries of Ireland and the stories of the abuses that took place throughout that system. Those laundries were a system of work homes run by some orders of nuns to house and rehabilitate “fallen women” of Ireland. These were predominately young unmarried pregnant ladies, or young ladies who were considered trouble, or those who perhaps had some difficulties related to either mental or physical challenges. These laundries were intended to intercede on their behalf. What struck me as interesting is how these young ladies ended up at these institutions, and their stories about life in those institutions. It was either their parents, the court system, or  the government that interceded in these ladies lives and placed them into those church institutions; and the ladies that were placed there described it as a slavish prison. With the intercession of those groups, might that little girls father(Jarius) also be seen, though not nearly in so positive of a light; or perhaps even those noise makers at the gospel girls house? While that gospel father, Jarius, interceded with genuine concern: a pure and contrite heart; might not that government of Irelands intercession be seen not as concern, but more of a dumping ground, and isn’t that the danger of intercession by others? The noise makers? In the gospel story the people that were intermediates between God and God’s people all had their own motives and often those motives went before to intentions of the people. That might have been riches, or power, or political advantage. The same was true in Ireland. The motives were pride, or political advantage, or power. Those were the motives of the society, and not the best intentions of the women. The societies intercession was to suppress them. One of the nuns who recounted the days of those institutions remarked on why the blame was placed on the nuns “Why are we to blame” she said, “What did we do wrong?” : “The problem was not with us, it was with society.” She concluded, “in that society there was no place for them to go.” That was intercession gone horribly wrong, not that intercession on someone’s behalf is wrong. The interesting part of the story though is that those laundries turned around when those little girls told their stories directly, as older women. They interceded on the next generations behalf. I wonder how much better things would have been if those young ladies got to tell their stories when they were young? I wonder how much better things would have been if people listened?

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