‘The Healing of Jairus’ Daughter’ (ca. 1520-25).
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
‘Faith calls to faith’
Ordinary Sunday 13, Year B
Jesus was turned around. Jesus turned. Made aware of multiple needs, possible directions. Ministry on both sides (“all sides”) of the lake. Younger and older people. Life and death issues.
Deep reading of gospel stories goes beyond adoration of Jesus and often entails our “becoming” the body of Christ. How are we turned around and around? Is it a question of orientation or agility? Ethical discernment or moral sensitivity? Sustainability? All of the above.
(How are we learning something new – about orientation and agility, discernment and sensitivity, sustainability? ….)
How are we turned around and around? In response to need … and shameless greed, exploitation of the earth and its most vulnerable …?
We might note, though, a certain disposition, a Christlike confidence – amid commotion, suffering, mocking laughter. Faith calls to faith.
Perhaps we can relate to Jairus. He is deeply anxious, desperate to find help for his child. He has authority and standing. He is willing to plead/beg in public. To call on the help of a popular prophet. He starts out. He is stopped. He waits …
He has a social barrier to overcome: the minister and leader/ruler humbles himself. His part in the drama illustrates how faith must frequently go on a journey, confronting in the process greater challenges than were present at the start. He asked Jesus to come and lay hands on a daughter who was very ill. In the end he saw Jesus grasp her by the hand and summon her from death to life.
Jairus (and his long-suffering partner too, the little girl’s mother) saw what all believers experience sacramentally in baptism and in the mystery of death (various modes of death): the creative force/pull of the Spirit of life.
Example: There’s a lot going on in Norrie’s hand-drawn and hand-generated cartoons, but certainly this, by way of humour and human dignity: the creative force/pull of the Spirit of life.
Perhaps we can relate to the woman. She has an illness the doctors cannot cure. She has spent all her money. She would have been regarded an “unclean” person, contagious, in the grip, so Mark imagines, of the “demonic world” from which no human power has been able to free her.
She touches the tassel of the cloak of the one she believes embodies the goodness of God. The tassels, tzitzit in Hebrew, one in each corner of the cloak (shawl or tallit), symbolise the Torah or Wisdom of God (Num. 15:37-41). The disciples struggle to understand.
“When she touched him, the savior didn’t see/ But still he turned around and cried, ‘Somebody touched me’/ She said, ‘It was I who just wanna touch the hem of your garment/ I know I’ll be made whole right now’/ She stood there cryin’, ‘Oh Lord’ (Oh Lord)/ ‘Oh Lord’ and ‘Oh Lord’ (Oh Lord)/ ‘Oh Lord’ (Oh Lord)/ And ‘Oh Lord’ (Oh Lord)/ Said, ‘If I could just touch the hem of your garment/ I know I’ll be made whole right now’” (Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers, 1951).
Saved from her 12-year affliction, both personally and socially she has regained her life.
She could have thought to herself, “I am too ‘unclean’, too dirty and worthless, for Jesus to be interested in healing me.” But her faith pushed through that barrier to access the healing power of God.
Example: Our friends at Wayside Chapel have a mission motto (a short version of their longer mission statement, a handle on their mission statement). The motto is “Love Over Hate”. The Rev. Graham Long used to say that ministry very often means helping people overcome a self-hatred that they might experience and share the love of God.
The unnamed woman could have thought to herself, “I am too ‘unclean’, too dirty and worthless, for Jesus to be interested in healing me.” But her faith pushed through that barrier to access the healing power of God.
Amid commotion, suffering, mocking laughter (within and without), faith calls to faith.
How might we create space for this? How might we become attuned to this? How might we do this together? … Amen.