Tuesday, February 5, 2013



Today’s Gospel reading is Mark’s account of the “two miracles,” the cure of the woman with a hemorrhage and the cure of the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official. (Mark 5, 21-43)

Like most Gospel stories, even in Mark’s fast-paced, and short, narrative, this one is dense with meaning and lessons. Perhaps the most obvious is the power of Jesus to work miracles and the evidence such power provides that He is indeed, the Son of God. Just a bit deeper, and maybe more important, is the role of faith in the saving mission of Jesus Christ. While both the woman with a hemorrhage and Jairus, and certainly those who observed these miracles, may have thought that the miracles were effected by contact with, or the actions of, Jesus, it was the faith of recipients that resulted in the miracles. Both the woman and Jairus believed that Jesus could save them; they didn’t doubt and they didn’t hesitate. Neither thought “What the hell, nothing else has worked, so I’ll give this Jesus guy that everyone is talking about a whirl. What have I got to lose?” No. Each was convinced that Jesus could, respectively, cure the hemorrhage that had been afflicting the woman for twelve years and save Jairus’s daughter from what looked like certain death.

There is something else about the story that has long caught my attention. The first of the miracle stories recounts the woman’s touching the cloak of Jesus and being cured. Jesus “aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked ‘Who has touched my clothes?’” (Mark 5, 30) Note that the story does not indicate that Jesus was disturbed or angry; He simply asked who touched Him. But then the story goes on

“The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5, 33)

This woman was conditioned, perhaps from the teachings of the Old Testament conveyed by the rigid, stern, rules-obsessed teachers of the day (the Pharisees, but does this sound at all familiar?), to believe that Jesus would be angry with her, perhaps for seeking His mercy without His explicit permission or the permission of the religious authorities or for the temerity she, a woman, displayed in touching a man, or even his clothes. But what does Jesus do?

“He said to her ‘Daughter, our faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.’” (Mark 5, 34)

He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t appalled that the woman had broken some kind of man made rule. He was delighted to have been able to cure her and was amazed, and marveled, at her faith.

That’s the way God is; He wants to help us and to cure us because He loves us. He doesn’t hand out favors and cures as rewards for slavishly following “the rules” somebody claims to have made in His name. We don’t have to beg God for His miracles; He wants to perform them for us. All He asks is faith and, in a sense, permission to do those things He does so well and so lovingly.

No comments: