Homily preached by Br. Andrew e.f.o. at Springwood on Sunday 28th June 2015
Some Scriptural Commentators have entitled this passage owing to Jesus’ wonderful acknowledgement that the woman is his daughter.
The stories of these two daughters are inextricable intertwined like a vine on a trellis. It is the Tale of two wondrous healings, of the living dead and of the newly dead.
Before we step into their stories let me first remind you of their context.
Gospel Mark 5:21-43
In Mark’s Gospel we have been engaging in the retelling of the Jesus story in such a way as to make records of Signs or Miracles, which demonstrated Jesus’ divine power and His awareness of higher laws that govern our world.
There are four such categories and these are:-
· Raising the dead
· Controlling Nature
Jesus has just returned from the other side of the Lake where previously he had calmed the storm, then exorcized the Demoniac who was possessed of 6000 demons, there were 6000 soldiers in a Legion, by making pigs fly.
Jesus is now about to cure the woman of the issue of blood and raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Fulfilling all four criteria, remember what the demoniac said?
"What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
Now, imagine- you are a woman probably no younger than 26 and for the past 12 years you have been afflicted with an issue of blood.
For the entire life of Jairus’ daughter, remember she is 12 years old, you have been haemorrhaging.
You are outcasts from your people because you are unclean until the evening of the day the blood flow ceases. Or in this woman’s case the evening she is cured. You live alone at the edge of the village. Everything you touch becomes unclean.
Anyone you touch becomes unclean and must go and wash their clothes and themselves and be unclean until the evening.
You cannot go to the Temple or Synagogue to worship because you are unclean. You beg for your bread from a distance in case you inflict the one who gives alms.
If you were ever married, by now your husband has divorced you and if there were any children you will not have held them or seen them close up and now they might be fully grown. You are weak and in penury from unsuccessful medicine and Jesus is your final hope for Physical, Spiritual and Social wholeness because you are literally one of the walking dead.
The only company you have in your deathlike world is the company of other women who share your isolation as the phases of their Moon pass by.
Jairus, on the other hand is quite the important gentleman, one of the leaders of the Synagogue and also one of the first to greet Jesus at the waterside. He says “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” That is just what Jesus sets out to do.
If only that crowd had known who else was among them struggling to reach Jesus that day they would all have had to run home for a shower and change of clothing. In that crush the haemorrhaging woman had a faith strong enough to hold that if she merely touched Jesus’ garment she would be healed. As soon as she did touch the hem of his garment she knew herself to be whole “straight away Jesus knows that power has left him and turns to the crowd saying, ‘Who touched my clothes? “ Silly question? That’s what his disciples thought, yet Jesus looked about until the woman declared herself, and she was scared, she had committed a colossal breach of the Mosaic Law just being out so close to everyone and to touch the Rabbi’s clothing!
Jesus is compassionate, he calls her “Daughter” telling her that her faith has healed her. Think of it! The Mosaic Law is turned upside down: Jesus did not become unclean, and she is healed and purified by the power that resides in him! This is who Jesus is, he is the Holy One: the Healer
The Son of Man has sisters, God has Daughters
Again a subtle inference by the Evangelist that see, this is Jesus who heals in his Divinity.
In his divinity Jesus was aware in advance of the events of that day and so knew that Jairus’ daughter would die before he and her father arrived yet he took his time to minister to the woman, he did not push her away.
At that moment of course the bad news arrives in the form of someone from Jairus Household. ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ Mark reinforcing perhaps that Jesus was primarily known to be a wandering Rabbi and setting the stage for the completion of the most important test of the presence of Divinity – the triumph over death.
As with another strategic episodes in Jesus Ministry, the Transfiguration, Jesus takes only Peter, James and John with him into Jairus’ home. They were intended to mark, learn and inwardly digest the momentous events to come. The traditional Jewish Wake had begun, Jesus dismisses the commotion because he tells them that the girl is “sleeping”, at which they laugh only the parents and Peter James and John remain.
But if the little girl is only sleeping, why does Jesus need the special witness of Peter James and John to wake her up?
Sleep is a euphemism for “temporal” death. Remember at the beginning I spoke of a Tale of the living dead and of the newly dead, that the woman in her uncleanliness was as good as spiritually and socially dead and in the case of this little girl we have one who is experiencing physical death. Note I say experiencing.
The author of Mark is a good story teller and we can imagine ourselves in that room and almost see and hear Jesus as he takes her by the hand and says ‘Talitha cum’ in Aramaic – ‘get up’. After she has got up and walked about, Jesus very strictly tells both the girl’s parents and the three disciples not to tell anything about what has just happened; then he tells her parents to feed their daughter because Spirits do not need sustenance but little girls do and after that adventure she must have been hungry.
Jesus has raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, because his Father, the Creator of Life has given Jesus power over death. This miracle answers the third class of the Signs of divinity – Raising the dead.
But until the appointed time arrives this is a secret.
As Mark continues to build on the evidence of Jesus Divinity let us take hold of its fruits in our lives and know that Jesus is Lord of the Waves and the storms, master of the evil that captures our sanity and warps our spirit, of the illnesses that wrack our bodies and has delivered us from death itself through his own most precious Blood.