|Reading 1||Response||Reading 2||Gospel|
|Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24||Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13||2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15||Mk 5:21-43|
The healing power of a personal encounter
During Ordinary time the Lectionary readings present stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. This week’s readings invite RCIA participants and the believing community to examine Jesus’ healing and saving acts.
The first reading from Wisdom gives a meditation on the origins of death, both physical and spiritual. God did not create death; out of envy the evil one separated humans from God. This separation is spiritual death; physical death is a metaphoric consequence. The Lectionary editors pair this reading with today’s gospel, in which Jesus shows his power over spiritual and physical death.
The second reading continues Paul’s second letter to the ekklesia at Corinth. In today’s reading, Paul asks the Corinthians to participate in his collection for the Jerusalem ekklesia. He reminds the Corinthians that Christ has already made them spiritually rich; those with spiritual and material abundance should be willing to become poorer to give relief to other believers.
Mark’s gospel uses what scholars call the “Marcan sandwich” technique to tell two healing stories at once: Jairus’ daughter and the woman with a flow of blood. The related stories describe different women whose lives under threat.
- Power over disease and social isolation. The woman suffered from a flow of blood for twelve years. According to Torah, she is ritually impure: she should not be in the crowd, let alone touch Jesus. She believes that if she touches Jesus’ clothes she will be healed/saved. After touching Jesus, she knows immediately that she is healed; Jesus demands to know who she is.
Mark’s hearers would be surprised by Jesus’ response. Jewish men did not speak to women in public, and would never allow an unclean person to touch them. Ignoring cultural and religious laws, Jesus speaks directly to her (“Daughter”); addresses how her faith results in her healing/saving; blesses her (“shalom”); and tells her to “remain in health.” In Mark’s community this story promises that those who seek Jesus will find social and religious koinonia (fellowship, unity).
- Power over sickness and death. Jairus’ daughter is twelve years old. She is sick to the point of death. Jairus believes that Jesus’ touch can heal/save her. While on the way, Jairus hears his daughter is dead. Jesus tells Jairus not to fear, but to believe (Jairus has just witnessed Jesus heal another woman). When Jesus arrives at Jairus’ house, the mourners laugh at him. Jesus sends away the unbelievers and invites only the girl’s parents and Peter, James, and John to witness his healing/saving act.
Mark’s hearers would be surprised by Jesus’ actions. A Jewish person who touched a corpse would become unclean. Ignoring religious law, Jesus takes the girl’s hand, saying “Little lamb, arise.” The girl stands up and walks. The Greek words Mark uses for “arise” and “stand up” are the same words Jesus uses when speaking about his resurrection. In Mark’s community this story promises that Jesus will also raise up each believer at the parousia.
The readings present RCIA candidates and the believing community with ideas about spiritual and physical death, and the role of faith in healing and salvation. Although a large crows surrounds and jostles Jesus, only the woman seeking to touch and encounter Jesus is restored to community life. Although unbelievers surround Jairus, his faith in Jesus’ touch restores his dead daughter to physical life. How do we encounter Jesus? Are we part of a thoughtless crowd who impersonally bump against him? Do we laugh off the thought of real change as impossible? How would our lives change if we consciously reached out to Jesus or let him touch us?