If ever there was a Gospel story that reflects worldly response to the word’s and wisdom of Jesus, then this Sunday’s passage from St. Mark would be it. This passage covers two episodes which are kind of ‘sandwiched’ together; the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage.
I say ‘sandwiched’ because the story begins with the initial contact between Jairus and Jesus, where Jairus, a synagogue official, begs Jesus to come heal his daughter. While Jesus is preparing to leave with Jairus, we then have the incident of the woman cured of the hemorrhage. After the encounter between the woman and Jesus, St. Mark resumes the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter.
We have two miracles in this one passage; the presence of Jesus brings healing and brings life. However, I would like to focus on the response to the words of Jesus in each of these miracles.
When Jesus is touched by the woman, who in her desperation believes just touching Jesus’ clothes would be sufficient to cure her, he responds with ‘who touched my clothes?’ He is in the midst of a great crowd, and rather than attempting to answer Jesus’ question, his disciples respond with dismay; put in more modern language, we might expect them to say, ‘are you kidding me? In the middle of a crowd you want to know WHO touched you? Are you out of touch with what is going on around you?’
And of course, when Jesus comes to the house of Jairus, and says the little girl is not dead, but only sleeping – and the people there respond by laughing at Him, again we can imagine their response, ‘how insensitive are you? Don’t you get it? Don’t you understand the ‘real world’?’
But we see in both instances, that Jesus is completely aware, and completely ‘in touch’ and that His words and teaching are truth and love – and in both cases there is tremendous healing for the ones who come to Him in trust. He hears their cries; he understands their needs; he knows His own. He responds in His time, in His way, in love and truth. He doesn’t respond to the pressure of those around him who demand he be ‘in touch’ with reality or who ridicule His words of comfort and hope.
How often do we hear these same accusations levelled at the teaching of the Church? Especially when it comes to the Sacraments; or the Church’s teaching on marriage, artificial contraception, abortion, euthanasia, social justice – the list goes on. How often do we hear the Church’s teaching ridiculed; that it is ‘out of touch; insensitive; not in step with the times?’
It is really an affirmation that the Church in her teaching, handed down from Jesus through the Apostles, must be on the right track. Our Lord said that the world will hate those who follow Him, because the world hated Him first. The wisdom of Christ is not restricted to first-century Palestine; His words, teaching, wisdom, and the need for His presence and healing are just as relevant for us today in our ‘here and now.’
His presence in the Sacraments, His words in the Scriptures and His teaching handed down through Sacred Tradition bring healing and bring life.
And in this month where we celebrate the birthday of our country, we need to remember that being faithful to Christ, enables us to be the vehicles of His healing and His life in a world that, at times, seems to want to deny Christians the ability or the right to live out their faith. But as with Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the hemorrhage, Christ – through His Church – will not be prevented from reaching out to those who need Him most. The disbelief, ridicule or dismay of the world, will not prevent Jesus from recognizing His own
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!