When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?”But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.
When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approvedhttp://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Of the many Gospel passages we read for Mass, this one always seems the most disjointed. It comes almost like a breaking news item in the middle of a longer piece. They bear equal weight, but the suddenness stands out one against the other. As quickly as the story breaks, the Gospel returns to its regularly scheduled program. The disjunction may be so striking that we miss the powerfully compared and contrasted subjects.
Hundreds of persons press in around Jesus, but only one is so faithful that the slightest touch cures her illness. Jesus stares around not to rebuke her, but to affirm her bold faith. Immediately, Jesus returns to his previous mission of healing Jairus’ daughter. Upon arrival, he tries to lift the spirits of the mourners, telling them the child simple sleeps.
Whereas the hemorrhaging woman trembled at the opportunity to touch Christ’s cloak, the family mocks Jesus. I do not imagine they do it out of malice, but the biting anger that may come at the death of a loved one. I can hear the sarcasm in my own voice if someone were to tell me my recently passed loved one was taking a nap. Jairus and his wife believe, however, and accompany Jesus into the room, watching his healing love. In affirmation of the child’s humanity, Jesus instructs them to feed her—resurrection followed by a meal of communion.
These two stories help me reflect upon my own faith: Am I bold, willing to dive to touch the edge of a cloak for my faith? Do I ridicule faith, or fiercely hope? Do I invite Christ’s healing love to reconcile my life?
—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.
Lord, touch our minds so worry is stilled. Touch our hearts, so compassion and forgiveness direct our behavior. Touch our bodies so we move with confidence. And touch our souls so we recognize the blessings of this day. Amen.
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