The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.07.01
Faith and Power
The Gospel for today is a lesson on faith.
It is steeped in stories of divine power and magic, but it is really about faith, faith which means trust.
It is a call to all people who suffer, it is an encouragement to hope, for to believe in the coming of a better day.
It is easy to read this narrative and make the story about Jesus, about his power. This is not the right way to read it.
It is unlikely that such miracles ever even occurred. We live in a world where disease and illness afflict us, where death occurs, all of it in accordance with the laws of nature, laws which God established for the good of all creation.
God does not abrogate God’s own law.
What the gospel intends, is to encourage us to have faith, faith in the notion that everything we suffer is a part of God’s divine plan, and that plan includes our salvation, which means an end to all suffering, for all time.
The gospel writers used the stories of miracles, and healing to convey their faith.
The narrative has two layers.
It is important that we push through the surface, go past the stories of divine power and miracle making, and get to the story of faith, the trust that washes us clan and makes us well, even in the midst of our pain.
Little Girl, I Tell You to Get Up
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ 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 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 behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power 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 and yet you say, “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 from your complaint.’
While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘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 official’s house 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 laughed at 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 this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time