Mk 5:21-43 – Sunday Gospel Reflection
Posted June 27, 2009on:
Mk 5:21-43 -THE OFFICIAL’S DAUGHTER AND THE WOMAN WITH HEMORRHAGE
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In both Mark and Luke, Jesus has just calmed the storm on the sea and cured a demoniac at Gadara. Now we come to a double miracle which occur almost simultaneously in which Jesus deals with both death and disease. The message from Mark 5 and Luke 8 is that Jesus has power over the natural world and the supernatural world and now we see He has power over disease and death.
The Gospels report Jesus raising three people to life–this girl, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. In each case the identity of the person is clearly given.
This account shows us, once again, the role faith plays in Jesus’ saving actions.
In the case of the woman with the hemorrhage we should note that Jesus is won over by her sincerity and faith: she does not let obstacles get in her way. For your information, this is the real status of the woman. According to Mark, the doctors couldn’t help her. He says, “She suffered much at the hands of many doctors, had spent all her money and was not helped at all.” Luke doesn’t mention that she suffered at the hands of many doctors, nor that she had spent all her money on medical bills. He just mentions that she could not be healed. Why do you think Luke left that part out? Because Luke was a doctor.
Because of her condition, this woman, who have suffered hemorrhage for twelve years, was continuously unclean according to Lev 15:25-31 and her touch would have made anyone she touched unclean. Haggai 2:10-14 makes the point that if something clean touches something unclean, then the thing that was clean is defiled. She could not go to the temple to worship. She could not touch anyone or they would be unclean for the rest of the day. If she sat in a chair, it was unclean for the rest of the day, etc. So she was basically cut off from normal fellowship with others and with God
Such was her seemingly helpless situation that she came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment; for she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I shall be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Mt. 9:21-23).
Similarly, Jairus, the “ruler” (of the synagogue) referred to in today’s gospel narrative as can be known from the parallel passages in Mark (5:21-43) and Luke (8:40-56), does not care what people will say; a prominent person in his city, he humbles himself before Jesus for all to see. “While He (Jesus) was speaking to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before Him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Kneeling is the eastern way of showing respect to God or to important people. Reverence is a legitimate and appropriate external sign of internal faith and adoration.
And Jesus rose and followed him, with His disciples” (Mt 9:18f). While they are on their way home, a sick woman comes up and touches Jesus’ garment. Her faith expressed in touching healed her. Jairus is with Jesus and when Jesus stops to help the woman some men from Jairus’ house report that Jairus’ daughter is dead. When they get to the house, He tells them “depart, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping” and they laugh at Him. Was she dead? Yes. The text says, “Her spirit returned.”
Jesus says the same thing about Lazarus: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him” (John 11:11). Although Jesus speaks of sleep, there is no question of the girl–or Lazarus, later–not being dead. For our Lord there is only one true death–that of eternal punishment (cf. Matthew 10:28). Sleep is a euphemism for “temporal” death. Paul even uses this term for believers (1 Co 15, 1Co 11).
Three interpretations we can possibly develop on today’s account:
First, from the healing of the woman we see that it is faith in Christ, not magical touches that heal. The power is in a person, not a fabric or formula. In Jesus’ time there was a superstition that that power was in the robe of a great man, priest, rabbi, etc. Her belief was that touching the fabric would make her well. In fact, when she did touch His garment, she was healed. Jesus was aware of the fact that a miracle had taken place.
Was she healed by touching his garment? Was it the garment that healed her? No, Mark 5:30 says Jesus felt the power flow from Him. Jesus declares to the woman that it was not the touch but her faith which healed her. Mark wants to distinguish between the fabric and her faith in Him. Here we can see that God can use inadequate faith, respond to it and clarify it later. God was gracious enough to respond to her faith even though it was not mature. I think one of the reasons Jesus stopped was to tell the woman that it was her faith that healed her so that she wouldn’t continue in her superstition.
Second, the raising of Jairus’ daughter affirms the deity of Christ and proves that he is the Messiah, the resurrection and the life. Matt 11:5 quotes Isa 35. It is Jesus who guarantees our resurrection from the dead. Because He lives, we too shall live (Paul tells us). It is him that turns death into sleep from which we can awake.
Third, intercessory prayer is powerful. Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men especially sinners (cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; Tim 2:5-8). In today’s Gospel story we seem to have a miracle occurring almost independently of the woman being raised from dead. She was raised from the dead because of the faith of his Jairus – his father.
It was Jairus’ prayer in faith that healed and saved her daughter from hemorrhage. Have faith, then, to Jesus so that your heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to “seek” and to “knock,” since he himself is the door and the way (cf. Mt 7:7-11, 13-14, see cf. CCC 2609). “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will” (Mk 11:24). Such is the power of prayer and of the faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23; cf. Mt21:22; see cf. CCC 2610).
I exhort you, then, to have faith in God who “wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4), that is, Jesus the way, the truth and the life” (see Jn 16:1; 14:6). “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3: 17) and “that we might have life to the full” (Jn 10:10). Apart from Him you can do nothing (Jn 15:5), hence, pray always and never lost heart (Lk 18:1), “never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:17f);