The Long Play

The gospel for today comes from Mark 5:21-443 which includes account of the raising of Jairus’ daughter from death (Mk 5:21-24, 35-43), and falling between the segments, the account of Jesus healing of woman who was “afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.” It is an unusual structure to be sure, but I think there is a point in the way Mark has told the story: (a) it happened that way, and (b) the internal symmetry of the two accounts: the healing of a woman who has lived with the impingement of death anticipates the healing of a girl who has actually experienced death.

Both stories begin with someone seeking out Jesus, the healer. Both stories end in the cure of a person who had been hopelessly sick. Even the way Mark intertwines the two stories shows that Mark wants his readers to hear one important message common to both: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” The father of the little girl trusts Jesus even after hearing the report that she is dead. He is invited to witness Jesus’ healing touch and word, and then sees his little girl walking around alive. The woman shows her trust by touching Jesus and by coming forward in spite of her fear. The reward of faith is peace.

Today there are many like the nameless woman of the gospel. People have exhausted their resources seeking medical treatment for a chronic condition. When they were younger, doctors seemed able to provide cures. Now there is an ever-expanding list of medical problems. It is as though after a certain age, you are never really well. Just less sick. It can be a financial and emotional drain, made worse when having to deal with the bureaucratic processes, the seeming impersonal contact with hurried medical professionals, and the compartmentalization of medical specialties – all compounding the stress and uncertainty. And then the dismay when we do not respond to treatment as hoped for, as anticipated.

It is those moments we need to remember: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Maybe it’s a storybook ending; but only at a chapter level. Eventually the last pages turn and the story ends – in this world anyway. “Do not be afraid; just have faith” –  it’s a long-term play daily remembered

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