Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43
June 27, 2021
The raising of Jairus’s daughter is certainly worthy of some quality reflection time. As miracles go, it seems restoring the dead to life takes first prize.
Although the healing of the anonymous woman, by “miracle standards,” might seem the lesser of the two events described in today’s Gospel, it could well have overshadowed Jesus’s compassion and unimaginable powers in the minds of many of the actual eye witnesses.
In fact, because of His bold gesture in acknowledging the desperate woman, many of the onlookers might well have walked away scandalized and in disgust before even learning of the Lord’s victory over death itself. It is important to appreciate the religious mindset of the time, to understand how this healing might well have greater significance than raising the dead.
At the time, there were religious laws that were practiced strictly by observant Jews. Any physical contact between a man and a woman who were not married to each other was a serious and severely punishable offense. But, to have contact with a woman suffering from hemorrhages was completely unthinkable.
The easiest way for those unfamiliar with these religious beliefs to grasp the high drama of this episode is to understand that she was regarded as “impure” or “unclean” or “unworthy.” She certainly was not contagious, but, because of her condition, she was no better off than a leper.
She took a great risk being out in public, mingling with people. Merely touching the hem of the Lord’s garment, in the eyes of those who were supposedly committed to a literal and strict interpretation of the law, was extremely reckless on her part.
For His part, reacting to this offensive “touch” in the manner He did would also have been highly offensive to the sensitivities of many of the “religious” onlookers.
Jesus knew this!
Still, rather than handle her miraculous healing in the manner most healing miracles are described in Mark’s Gospel…by imposing a gag order…Jesus brought the matter to the attention of the entire crowd. He elevated and condoned her action. He complimented her faith.
This little encounter, on the way to the mind-blowing event of restoring life to a lifeless child, ranks among the most important lessons Jesus has given us. It is a clear demonstration of the primacy of faith. Her faith saved her…even as she violated the law.
No one but God knows the strength and depth of a person’s faith. In fact, sometimes we don’t know how strong our own faith is until it is put to the test, just as the poor, bleeding woman was tested.
Furthermore, it is most unwise to pass judgment as to someone else’s purity…cleanliness…worthiness…regardless of our motivation, because by focusing on who is pure…clean…or worthy, we might just miss an even greater miracle.
The law has an important purpose and must be honored…BUT FAITH HEALS!