Tuesday, January 31, 2017
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
help us to love you with all our hearts
and to love all men as you love them.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
on God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 5, 21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lake. Then the president of the synagogue came up, named Jairus, and seeing him, fell at his feet and begged him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her that she may be saved and may live.' Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she had spent all she had without being any the better for it; in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up through the crowd and touched his cloak from behind, thinking, 'If I can just touch his clothes, I shall be saved.'
And at once the source of the bleeding dried up, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. And at once aware of the power that had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' His disciples said to him, 'You see how the crowd is pressing round you; how can you ask, "Who touched me?"' But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. 'My daughter,' he said, 'your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free of your complaint.'
While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the president of the synagogue to say, 'Your daughter is dead; why put the Master to any further trouble?' But Jesus overheard what they said and he said to the president of the synagogue, 'Do not be afraid; only have faith.' And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the house of the president of the synagogue, and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, 'Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.' But they ridiculed him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child's father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, 'Talitha kum!' which means, 'Little girl, I tell you to get up.' The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At once they were overcome with astonishment, and he gave them strict orders not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.
• In today’s Gospel, we meditate on two miracles which Jesus worked in favour of two women. The first one for a woman who was considered impure because of the haemorrhage which she was suffering from for the past 12 years. The other one, for a girl, twelve years old, who had expired a short time before. According to the mentality of the time, anybody who would touch the blood or a corpse was considered impure. Blood and death were factors of exclusion! Because of this, those two women were marginalized persons, excluded from the participation in the community.
• The starting point. Jesus arrives in the boat. The people join him. Jairus, the head of the Synagogue, asks help for his daughter who is dying. Jesus goes with him and the people accompany him, pushing on all sides. This is the starting point of the two cases of healing which follow: the cure of the woman and the resurrection of the 12 year old girl.
• The situation of the woman. Twelve years suffering from haemorrhage! For this reason she lived excluded, because at that time, blood rendered persons impure, and the one who touched them became impure also. Mark says that the woman had spent all she had with doctors. And instead of becoming better, she got worse. A situation without a solution!
• The attitude of the woman. She heard people speak about Jesus. Hope sprang in her. She told herself: “If I can just touch his clothes, I will be saved”. The catechism of the time said: “If I touch his cloak, he will become impure”. The woman thinks exactly the contrary! This is a sign that women did not agree with all this that religious authority taught. The woman gets in through the crowd, in the midst of the people, and without being noticed, she touches Jesus, because everybody touched him and pushed him. At that same moment she noticed in her body that she had been cured.
• The reaction of Jesus and that of the disciples. Jesus also aware of the power that had gone out from him asked: “Who touched my clothes?”. The disciples said to him: “You see how the crowd is pressing round you; how can you ask, who touched me?” So here appears the clash between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus had a sensibility which the disciples did not perceive. The disciples reacted like everybody else and they did not understand the different reaction of Jesus. But Jesus did not pay attention and continued to investigate, to inquire.
• Healing through faith. The woman became aware that she had been discovered. It was a difficult and dangerous moment for her. Because according to the belief of the time, an impure person, who like herself got in among the people, contaminated everyone who touched her. And all would become impure before God (Lv) (Lk 15, 19-30). For this reason the punishment was the possible stoning. But the woman had the courage to assume the consequences of what she had done. But the woman “frightened and trembling” fell at Jesus’ feet and told him the whole truth. Jesus says the last word: “My daughter, your faith has restored you to health, go in peace and be free of your complaint”.
(a) “Daughter”, with this word Jesus accepts the woman into the new family, into the community, which was gathering together around him. (b) What she thought became a reality. (c) Jesus acknowledges that without the faith of that woman, he would not have been able to work the miracle.
• The news of the death of the little girl. At that moment some people arrived from the house of Jairus to inform him that his daughter had died. It was no longer necessary to disturb Jesus. For them, death was the great barrier. Jesus will not be able to overcome death! Jesus listens, looks at Jairus, and applies what he had just seen, that is, that faith is capable to realize what the person believes. And he says: “Do not be afraid, only have faith!”
• In Jairus’ house. Jesus allows only three of his disciples to go with him. Seeing the commotion of the people weeping and wailing because of the death of the child, he said: “The child is not dead, she sleeps!” People around laughed . People know how to distinguish when a person is sleeping and when the person is dead. It is the same laughter of Abraham and of Sarah, that is of those who are unable to believe that nothing is impossible for God (Gn 17, 17; 18, 12-14; Lk 1, 37). For them also, death was a barrier which nobody could overcome, go beyond! The words of Jesus had a very profound meaning. The situation of the persecuted communities at the time of Mark seemed to be a situation of death. They had to hear: “She is not dead! You are sleeping! Wake up!” Jesus does not pay attention to the laughter and enters into the room where the child is, alone, with the three disciples and the parents of the child.
• The resurrection of the child. Jesus takes the child by the hand and says: “Talita kum!” She rises. Great commotion! Jesus keeps calm and asks that they give her something to eat. Two women are cured! One is twelve years old, of life, the other one twelve years of haemorrhage, twelve years of exclusion! The exclusion of the child begins at twelve years of age, because her menstruation begins, she begins to die! Jesus has the greatest power and resurrects: “Get up!”
4) Personal questions
• Which is the point in this text which pleased you or struck you the most? Why?
• One of the women was cured and once again integrated so that she could live in the community. A child was raised from her death bed. What does this action of Jesus teach us for our life in the family and for our community today?
5) Concluding Prayer
Of you is my praise in the thronged assembly,
I will perform my vows before all who fear him.
The poor will eat and be filled,
those who seek Yahweh will praise him,
'May your heart live for ever.' (Ps 22,25-26)