Fr. Ver Bust's Column:|
"Explaining the Gospel"
|Fr. Richard Ver Bust
Stories of common faith in Jesus
The Kingdom of God grows through Jesus' healing of the sick
July 2, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Richard Ver Bust
We return this week to the celebration of Ordinary Time. Our Gospel today is part of a series of
miraculous actions. In these stories Mark shows how Jesus taught through his actions. The first
story is that of the stilling of the storm followed by the exorcizing of a demon. Our Gospel today
is about the healing of the sick. All of these stories show how the Kingdom of God is breaking
into the world and how Jesus is the means by which this takes place.
Our reading today is the combination of two healing stories, one the healing of Jairus' daughter
and the second the healing of a woman with a flow of blood. Mark has combined them. He
cleverly uses words that fit both stories. They are both about women, the number 12 is used in
both, and there is an emphasis in both on faith, fear, and use of the word daughter. There is some
emphasis on ritual purity and Mark shows how some believe and others have doubts.
The reading opens with Jesus crossing the sea and a large crowd gathered to hear him. A
prominent official who is a leader of a synagogue approaches him seeking to have his daughter
healed. It is unusual that his proper name is given and some have seen in his name, Jairus, which
means "may he be enlightened," a lesson about what is being taught.
We can see how distraught and concerned he is for he throws himself before Jesus and begs him
for help. So much for his prominence. His daughter is foremost in his thoughts. He tells Jesus
that his daughter is at the point of death. Matthew and Luke in their gospels will say she is
already dead. He wants Jesus to lay his hands on her, this being an ancient healing act.
Remember that early Christians used words like healing and life to mean salvation and new life.
The crowd continues to surround Jesus. A woman who has suffered 12 years from doctors who
took advantage of her and her illness is among the crowd. Nothing and no one has helped her and
she too is desperate for she is destitute. She is also ritually impure because of the flow of blood.
Unlike Jairus she doesn't attempt to approach Jesus but still believes he can help her. She breaks the codes of the time by touching Jesus, being ritually unclean and being a woman. This is the only miracle story in which Jesus does not take the first step.
What Jairus and the woman share in common are their faith in Jesus. He helps both and grants their requests. Their faith is in contrast to those around Jairus' home. They thought initially that Jesus might help but now they ridicule Jairus for thinking that Jesus could help one who has died.
Since she has died, Jesus should not touch her, because should one come in contact with a dead body, they become ritually unclean. Jesus disregards the code and touches her lifeless body. He did not accept the finality of death.
It is interesting that for the woman an action done in a crowd leads to a private healing. For the young girl, although the healing is done privately, many soon hear about it. Both stories are about faith in Jesus and how through healing of the sick the Kingdom of God is advanced.
(Fr. Ver Bust is professor emeritus in religious studies at St. Norbert College, De Pere.)