Gospel—Mark 5: 21 – 43
This week we come to the end of this section of Mark’s Gospel in which we heard numerous parables and incidents from the ministry of Jesus that demonstrated the power of Jesus and the importance of Faith. This particular passage has a story within a story as it begins with the Synagogue official asking Jesus to heal his daughter, then the story of the Woman with the hemorrhages who touches the garment of Jesus and is healed. Both are full of images and lessons of the ministry and the power that comes forth from Jesus.
In other Gospel accounts Jesus does not seem to be popular with religious officials. Most of the time when they are mentioned in the Gospels they come across as adversaries of Jesus and not supporters of Jesus. Nicodemus, who is mentioned early in John’s Gospel, comes under the cover of darkness so as not to be noticed by others. In this Gospel we have Jairus, the Synagogue official who is no doubt well known, coming to Jesus who is surrounded by a crowd. He pleads to Jesus, “My daughter is at the point of death, please come and lay hands on her, that she may get well and live.” It was a plea from a desperate father who did not want to see his daughter die. It is the same plea made today by desperate fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and so many others, for God to come and intervene in some serious and tragic situation.
Jesus went with Jairus to his home and on the way encounters the woman who has been suffering for twelve years. In a similar desperate act of faith she reaches out and touches the garment of Jesus, and she is healed. Jesus knows that power has gone out from him and asked who touched him, and when the women admitted that it was she, Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” Jesus and Jairus continue their journey, but before they arrive word reaches jairus that his daughter is dead. Jairus begins to send Jesus on his way, but Jesus insists on continuing and proclaims, “The child is not dead but asleep.” They reach the house that is now filled with mourners, and Jesus goes in and heals the girl.
Accounts like these in which Jesus says, “Your faith has healed you,” can give the impression that it is our faith that heals. I have run into situations where parents with a gravely ill child sincerely prayed for healing, only to have the child die. At which point someone tells them, “your child died because you did not have enough faith. If you had true faith your child would have been healed.” I am neither making up or exaggerating remarks like this, I have heard them said numerous time. The point is that it is not our faith that heals, it is Jesus who heals. Jesus lauds people for putting their faith in him. When we put our faith in Jesus we are opening our hearts to his presence. Jesus does not force himself into our lives, he comes when he is invited. Jairus invited Jesus to his home, the woman with the hemorrhage reached out to Jesus. Their faith led them to Jesus and in both cases Jesus healed. Why some people are healed and others are not is a mystery for we do not know the mind of God. We are called to have the faith to invite Jesus into our lives, and allow his will to be done.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.