13th Sunday O T Year B – 2015
Wis.1:13-15, 2:23-24/ 2Cor.8, 7, 9, 13-15/ Mk.5:21-43
“A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Pro.17:22). Laughter exercises the face, shoulders, and abdomen. When the breathing deepens, the heart rate rises, and the blood takes up and transports more oxygen. When we laugh, others laugh too. Laughter is a contagious, highly effective, non-prescription medicine. It has no side effects, and no one is allergic to it.
Have we had our dose of laughter today? We can use the tool of humor to induce laughter for our health, healing and general sense of well-being. We can even spend time in daily practicing our laughing out loud – maybe by smiling first, then leaning into a giggle, and then in outright belly.
A deaf man, a blind man and a disabled man heard a rumor that God had come down to a Church in the village to heal the sick. They all went to find out if it was true. God signed to the deaf man, “Can I help you, son?” The man signed back that he would be so happy if he could hear again.
God touched the man and suddenly he could hear. God then touched the blind man and he was able to see. The third man was sitting in his wheelchair with his mouth wide open in amazement. God looked at the man and asked him what he wanted. The man drew back and yelled, “Don’t lay one finger on me! I’m on disability!”
Today’s readings speak of the gift of life, both physical and spiritual, that God has given us. They urge and challenge us to be grateful for our health in body and soul and to use God’s gifts of life and health responsibly.
The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, tells us that God gave us life and health and that it was the jealousy of Satan which produced illness and death. The reading also suggests that the goal of our lives on earth is to know, to love and to serve God here with perfect health in body and soul, and to share God’s immortal life forever.
In the second reading, St. Paul asks the Corinthian Christian community to show to their Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, who were living in poverty and sickness, the kindness and compassion which Jesus expressed in his healing ministry. Paul asked the Corinthians to be generous in their contributions to a fund being collected for their suffering brothers and sisters.
The generosity of Jesus is the central theme here also, because Paul describes Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection as “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Today’s Gospel describes two of our Lord’s miracles, the healing of a woman who suffered from a chronic bleeding disease and the returning of the dead daughter of Jairus to life.
These healings teach us that Jesus wills life, and wills full life, for all God’s children. The two healings also reveal Jesus as a generous, kind and compassionate God who wills that men should live their wholesome lives fully.
In today’s Gospel we have what is often called a “Markan sandwich”. One story is encased or sandwiched between the beginning and end of another. Here, we have an unusual combination of two miracle stories, one contained within the other – a healing, and a restoration of life.
The story of the woman with the flow of blood interrupts and is sandwiched in between the two parts of the account of Jairus and his daughter. These miracles were worked by Jesus as rewards for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Though the ruler may have trusted Jesus out of desperation and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, even their perhaps defective Faith was amply rewarded.
The stories have several common features. One woman is 12 years old, and the other has suffered for 12 years. Both are called “daughter,” and both are in need of physical healing. The girl’s father is encouraged to have Faith, and the older woman is praised for her Faith.
The two stories illustrate Jesus’ power over both chronic illness and death. In each healing, Jesus shows his marvelous generosity by giving the recipients life and salvation in addition to physical healing. We just heard a story in the gospel that is two thousand-years-old! For two thousand years this story has been told and retold. What is its attraction?
The outline of the story is very simple. Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, beseeches Jesus to come and heal his daughter. Jesus agrees to come to this important man’s house – but on the way, he is interrupted by an unimportant woman who doesn’t even have a name. When Jesus was irritatingly interrupted he does some unexpected actions, from which we learn five things.
First: Jesus has preference for the unimportant. Jesus showed a preferential option for the poor. Jairus, the important man, can wait while Jesus deals with the unimportant woman. Jesus will pause for us as well.
Second: Jesus has time for losers. Jesus senses that here is a woman with losses. She has lost a lot of blood, a lot of life. Having been given up by her doctors, she is a loser easily relegated to life’s sidelines. And precisely because she is sidelined, she catches his attention. That raises the hope that he will notice us as well: that he, in fact has noticed us several times.
Third: Jesus has time for affirmation. So far, this woman has been identified only by her bleeding. But Jesus takes time to see her. He calls her “daughter”. And furthermore he affirms her by giving her credit. “Your faith has made you well.” This raises the hope that he will see us not as a face in the crowd but as who we are, and call us by our name.
Fourth: Jesus ignores the ‘no’ sayers. I can hear the complaints at his demand to know who touched him, “No, Jesus, we cannot dawdle here. We have job to do. Let us go.” How can you ask this crowd who touched you? Let us move on.” This raises the hope that the people who put us down, who are always negative toward us, who laugh at us and see us alive and not dead as they think.
Fifth: The story reminds us of a deep truth that Jesus came to raise the sick and the dead. In the stories of Jairus and hemorrhaging woman, nobody does anything except cry out in face of death and sickness. The only qualification for the gift of healing is to be sick or dead and cry out to him.
We need to accept God’s call to health, wholeness and holiness. Jesus accepts us as we are. Hence, let us bring before him our bodily illnesses and spiritual wounds and ask for his healing touch. As Christians, we believe that Jesus continues to heal us through his instruments in the medical profession like doctors, nurses and medical technicians.
Hence, when we go to a doctor, we need to offer a prayer to Christ the Divine Healer, that we may choose the right doctor, and that he or she will make the correct diagnosis, prescribe the correct treatment and give us the right medicine. Let us not forget the truth, that Christ still works wonders of healing. Let us also thank God for the great gift of health and use it for helping those who are sick.