In today’s Gospel, we hear two stories of healing. But they come about in different ways. One is what we call through intercessory prayer. When we pray for someone who is unable to pray for themselves. Jairus’s daughter is ill – on the verge of death and Jairus pleads with Jesus to come and lay his hands on her to make her well. The other is a prayer of last resort.
A woman who has tried everything to find healing for herself – “She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse” There are similarities that Mark is wanting us to see.
We know neither of their names. One is Jairus’s daughter – the other simply a woman suffering from hemorrhages. Jairus’s daughter is 12 years old – the woman has been suffering for 12 years. But they go about their plea for help in different ways.
Jairus fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him repeatedly,. The woman sneaks up from behind and does not ask for permission of any kind; Both show great faith in Jesus ability to heal. But the healing happens in opposite ways: Jairus asks Jesus to lay his hands on his daughter while the woman, without permission, lays her hand on Jesus’ clothes. She does this because there is no one there to advocate for her. She has no friends to carry her on a mat or lower her through the roof to be seen by Jesus. She has no father like Jairus’s daughter.
I feel that the woman is a lot like many of us. She has tried everything. She has done everything money can buy. She has seen countless doctors and has only grown worse. When do we normally turn to God? After we have exhausted all our other options? But something in her still has hope. And so do we even though we try our own ways first. Despite all she has been through, something in her believes, trusts, and even expects that if she simply reaches out and touches the edge of Jesus’ cloak, she will be healed. Even though her ways are sneaky. Even though she had tried other ways first.
She still has faith in Jesus albeit a flickering wick. Does that sound familiar?
Do we sometimes approach Jesus rather sheepishly because we’ve tried everything else and now we will try asking Jesus?
Well the good news is that she still is able to discover healing despite her ways of going about it. But is that the full extent of her healing? She is immediately physically healed as she touches Jesus’ clothes but her spiritual needs do not end there. She needs further healing in her relationship with God to enable her to trust him.. She can’t just sneak off after having had an encounter as such with Jesus. Jesus, knowing exactly what has happened, turns to her and reassures her that she’s not in trouble. Jesus is not going to scold her or take back the healing asking why she didn’t come to him first or ask for permission to touch him. She feels that he is going to reprimand her. She came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth – much like our confession and forgiveness. But he reassures her: Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease. It had nothing to do with any magical powers hidden in his clothes but the faith she put in Jesus. Whereas in the past it was sickness that had defined her, Jesus has set her free and redefined her to be a daughter of God She had no father like Jairus’s daughter did to plead with Jesus. She didn’t need to – she is a daughter of God. God is her heavenly Father and Jesus pleads for her healing.
Again Mark wants us to see this connection as Jesus calls her daughter and now he goes to heal Jairus’s daughter. But again Jesus must deal with negativity and doubts with people saying that hope for Jairus’s daughter’s life is already lost as some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. And even though Jesus says “the child is not dead but sleeping” they laughed at him. Jesus ignores their laughter because his hope is in his heavenly Father’s power and compassion. A reminder to us to ignore the laughter of the world because we put our hope in Jesus Christ and him rising from the dead. Jesus enters the home, gathers with the young girl’s parents and loved ones, and invites her to get up and walk around. She is healed, and they are all overcome with amazement. Both of these stories contain amazing healing but it is the persistent hope that Mark is wanting us to focus on.
The woman has exhausted everything she has—her finances, her options—but hope moves her to reach to Jesus when everything is gone. Jairus’s daughter has exhausted her very life but Jairus does not give up hope in Jesus. So the message here for us is to never give up hope in Jesus. And sometimes that is what it takes for us to see that in Christ alone is our hope. And hope will not disappoint us as St Paul points out: Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us. And Jesus will not turn us away because we’ve left him till last. Jairus is told not to bother the teacher any longer, that his daughter has already died but he and Jesus carry on, continuing to the house to see her. Hope carries Jairus forward just as it did the bleeding woman.
There is desperation and depletion in both of these stories but hope is stronger. And sometimes it is when all else fails that we realise where our true hope lies. After a year and a half of pandemic, heated political divides, isolation, and unrest, we are hungry for healing within our bodies, our tired souls, and our communities. Maybe we are where this woman and Jairus were. All hope in anything else has been exhausted – we are exhausted. We need to reach out for Jesus healing.
We need to ask for help, for rest, through prayer. Let us identify with Jairus and keep trusting in Jesus when the world has lost hope. Let us identify with the woman who has tried everything else, as we have, – masks, santitizing, social distancing, lockdowns, vaccinations and we’re still no better and in fact many feel worse. Let us seek healing where it is can be found when all other hope is lost and remember that to believe in Jesus is to hope for—even to expect—healing and wholeness whether it be in this lifetime or our full healing in Heaven.