Jul. 1, 2018

Thirteenth Sunday


Readings: 1st- Wis. 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2nd- 2 Cor. 8:7,9, 13-15; Gospel- Mk. 5:21-43

The gospel of today presents us with great stories of healing and restoration. The man named Jarius, the synagogue official is a man of great status. He comes to Jesus for her daughter. He genuflects at the feet of Jesus and pleads earnestly for him to come and heal his daughter. Jesus steps out to go to this official’s house. In between this journey comes the woman afflicted with hemorrhages. For twelve years, this woman suffered. Scripture says, “She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.” (Mk. 5:26-27) She has heard about Jesus and only wanted to touch just “the clothes”. (Mk. 5:28). 

The first thing to note in these stories is the importance of faith. Jarius stepped up to Jesus in faith. He recognized the power of Jesus over sickness and death. He was patient with Jesus as they were going to his house. When the woman with hemorrhages appeared on the scene, Jarius was still waiting. At that point, some people came from his house to inform him that the daughter had died. The question they asked him was, “why trouble the teacher any longer?” That meant that they were aware that this man had gone to ask for Jesus’ help. Yet he waited. Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid, just have faith.”

For the woman with hemorrhages, her faith was evident. Her statement alone, “If I but touch his clothes…” demonstrates how much belief she has in Jesus. Her faith pulls Jesus from the big crowd, draws Jesus’ attention. As soon as she touches Jesus, we notice a significant reaction. According to the Bible, “Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” What a powerful touch? Why? Because her touch different from the others. And Jesus said to her at last, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.” (Mk. 5:34)

Faith is an important tool in our relationship with Jesus. Think about the steps taken by the tow different individuals who come to Jesus: Jarius walks to Jesus, pleads, waits, and follows patiently. The woman with hemorrhages walks courageously, believes that any contact with Jesus will change her situation. She defies the pressure of the crowd to get to Jesus. Faith involves stepping out of our comfort zones. Faith is the ability to walk with Jesus, to trust in Jesus. It is the ability to understand that Jesus makes the difference. Faith defies the laws of nature. Faith is the guarantee of things even before they happen. Faith gives us access to Jesus and his healing powers. 

If we look at the gospel very closely, we notice some other similarities between the woman with hemorrhages and the daughter of Jarius that was healed. First, both of them are females.  Jesus refers to each of them as “daughter”. Isn’t that so caring? This connects us with the image presented by the Book of Wisdom in the first reading. It says, “For God formed man to be imperishable, the image of his nature he made him.” (Wis. 2:23) The image of God is present in both male and female as God’s children. Our relationship with God depends on faith and not on our gender.

Second is the figure “twelve”. The woman with hemorrhages had suffered for twelve years. The daughter of Jarius was twelve years old. Remember that Jesus started his miracle at the age of twelve. His apostles numbered twelve. The sons of Jacob were twelve that formed the twelve tribes of Israel. In the Book of Revelation, we read about the Holy City thus, “Its wall was of a great height and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Rev. 21:12) The Bible is said to have used the figure 12 for about 187 times. Twelve signifies completion and perfection. We still use the figure twelve. The 12 months of the year tell us of the beauty and completion God’s creation.

Third, both healings take place by physical contacts. The woman says, “If only I could touch his clothes…” Jesus takes the girl by hand and says, “Little girl, arise”. Faith involves contact with God. We have contact with God in the sacraments where Jesus touches us in a unique way.

Let us recognize today, how much God cares for us and wants to heal us. The first reading tells us that God did not make death. God does not rejoice in the destruction of the living. God creates life and wants us to enjoy life. He keeps us away from any form of destruction. He wants us saved. He cares and heals us. He restores us from threats of sickness or deformity. God touches us once we come to him in faith. 

The two incidents of today’s gospel carry great lessons for us. We encounter Jesus everyday of our lives. In a special way, we encounter him in prayer. And most intimately, we encounter him in the Blessed Eucharist. Let us always come to Jesus in faith. We must be ready to follow him, to walk the walk with Jesus. We must wait on him. We must be patient. We must be bold. Jesus can always turn things around for you if you believe. The woman with hemorrhages is an example. She suffered for so long. She had spent all her money in seeing medical experts. She didn’t have any good results from those visits. The moment she met Jesus, she got well. Pray in faith for that special encounter with Jesus. If He does encounter you, your life will surely be different.