Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gospel for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 5:21-43

Jairus' Daughter is Restored to Life.
The Curing of the Woman With a Hemorrhage

[21] And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about Him; and He was beside the sea. [22] Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Him, he fell at His feet, [23] and besought Him, saying, "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." [24] And He went with him.

And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. [25] And there was a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, [26] and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. [27] She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. [28] For she said, "If I touch even His garments, I shall be made well." [29] And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. [30] And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone forth from Him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched My garments?" [31] And His disciples said to Him, "You see the crowd pressing around You, and yet You say, `Who touched Me?'" [32] And He looked around to see who had done it. [33] But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. [34] and He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."

[35] While He was speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" [36] But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." [37] And He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. [38] When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, He saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. [39] And when He had entered, He said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." [40] And they laughed at Him. But He put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with Him, and went in where the child was. [41] Taking her by the hand He said to her, "Talitha cumi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you arise." [42] And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were overcome with amazement. [43] And He strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
21-43. Both Jairus and the woman with the flow of blood give us an example of faith in Christ's omnipotence, for only a miracle can cure Jairus' daughter, who is on her death-bed, and heal this lady, who has done everything humanly possible to get better. Similarly, the Christian should always expect God to help him overcome the obstacles in the way of his sanctification. Normally, God's help comes to us in an unspectacular way, but we should not doubt that, if it is necessary for our salvation, God will again work miracles. However, we should bear in mind that what the Lord expects of us is that we should every day fulfill His will.

22. At the head of each synagogue was the archisynagogist, whose function it was to organize the meetings of the synagogue on Sabbaths and holy days, to lead the prayer and hymns and to indicate who should explain the Sacred Scripture. He was assisted in his task by a council and also had an aide who looked after the material side of things.

25. This woman suffered from an illness which implied legal impurity (Leviticus 14:25ff). Medical attention had failed to cure her; on the contrary, as the Gospel puts it so realistically, she was worse than ever. In addition to her physical suffering--which had gone on for twelve years--she suffered the shame of feeling unclean according to the Law. The Jews not only regarded a woman in this position as being impure: everything she touched became unclean as well. Therefore, in order not to be noticed by the people, the woman came up to Jesus from behind and, out of delicacy, touched only His garment. Her faith is enriched by her __expression of humility: she is conscious of being unworthy to touch our Lord. "She touched the hem of His garment, she approached Him in a spirit of faith, she believed, and she realized that she was cured [...]. So we too, if we wish to be saved, should reach out in faith to touch the garment of Christ" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam", VI, 56 and 58).

30. In all that crowd pressing around Him only this woman actually touched Jesus--and she touched Him not only with her hand but with the faith she bore in her heart. St. Augustine comments: "She touches Him, the people crowd Him. Is her touching not a sign of her belief?" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 26, 3). We need contact with Jesus. We have been given no other means under Heaven by which to be saved (cf. Acts 4:12). When we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we obtain this physical contact through the sacramental species. We too need to enliven our faith if these encounters with our Lord are to redound to our salvation (cf. Matthew 13:58).

37. Jesus did not want more than these three Apostles to be present: three was the number of witnesses laid down by the Law (Deuteronomy 19:15). "For Jesus, being humble, never acted in an ostentatious way (Theophilactus, "Enarratio In Evangelium Marci, in loc."). Besides these were the three disciples closest to Jesus: later, only they will be with Him at the Transfiguration (cf. 9:2) and at His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. 14:33).

39. Jesus' words are in contrast with those of the ruler's servants; they say: "Your daughter is dead"; whereas He says: "She is not dead but sleeping". "To men's eyes she was dead, she could not be awoken; in God's eyes she was sleeping, for her soul was alive and was subject to God's power, and her body was resting, awaiting the Resurrection. Hence the custom which arose among Christians of referring to the dead, whom we know will rise again, as those who are asleep" (St. Bede, "In Marci Evangelium Expositio, in loc."). What Jesus says shows us that, for God, death is only a kind of sleep, for He can awaken anyone from the dead whenever He wishes. The same happens with the death and resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus says: "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him out of sleep." And, when the disciples think that it is ordinary sleep He is referring to, our Lord tells them plainly: "Lazarus is dead" (cf. John 11:11ff).

40-42. Like all the Gospel miracles the raising of the daughter of Jairus demonstrates Christ's divinity. Only God can work miracles; sometimes He does them in a direct way, sometimes by using created things as a medium. The exclusively divine character of miracles--especially the miracle of raising the dead--is noticed in the Old Testament: "The Lord wills and brings to life; He brings down to Sheol and raises up" (1 Samuel 2:6), because He has "power over life and death" (Wisdom 16:13). And also in the Old Testament God uses men to raise the dead to life: the prophet Elijah revives the son of the widow of Sarepta by "crying to the Lord" (cf. 1 Kings 17:21), and Elisha prevails on Him to raise the son of the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:33).

In the same way, in the New Testament the Apostles do not act by their own power but by that of Jesus to whom they first offer fervent prayer: Peter restores to life a Christian woman of Joppa named Tabitha (Acts 9:36ff); and Paul, in Troas, brings Eutychus back to life after he falls from a high window (Acts 20:7ff). Jesus does not refer to any superior power; His authority is sovereign: all He has to do is give the order and the daughter of Jairus is brought back to life; this shows that He is God.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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