Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jesus can take care of all our needs!!!

The 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time


John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee anda huge crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with the disciples. This happened shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that the large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy some food for them to eat?" Jesus knew very well what he was going to do, but asked this to test Philip's response. Philip answered him, "Not even with two hundred days' wages could we buy loaves enough for each of them to have even a little.'"
One of the other disciples, Simon Peter's brother, Andrew, said, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand families sat down.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to the disciples, "Gather up the fragments which are left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
The people, seeing this sign that Jesus had performed, said, "Surely this is the Prophet, who was to come into the world." Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Today's Gospel tells another story of God working through a faithful prophet to work abundance, despite opposition, with meager resources from an unlikely source -- but, the Gospel account of Jesus' action is so much more important on many levels.... The story of the miraculous feeding of the multitude was extremely important in the early Church. It is recounted six times in the gospels and it is the only miracle recounted in every gospel! The scenario is uncomplicated. The compassion of Jesus attracts a large crowd and soon they find themselves in a deserted place where no food is available.

The disciples, who frequently seem disconcerted by Jesus' apparent lack of foresight, point out that there was a real problem since no food was readily available for this large crowd. Jesus seems quite unconcerned and tells the disciples to provide them with food. When they protest that it will never be enough, Jesus simply asks that they give him the loaves, blesses and breaks them, and then gives them to the disciples for distribution. All eat and are filled with the twelve baskets of left-over fragments!

Again we see the contrast between the total inability of the disciples alone to deal with a desperate situation and the ease with which Jesus provides a solution. It is about the inability of humans, in any age, to deal with serious problems without divine help. As in the first reading, this Gospel teaches us that, even with sparse resources, the work of Christ is accomplished, when we cooperate with him, and when we work explicitly in God's name. This reading can be summarized in this theme: A true servant of God has implicit confidence in the divine generous, powerful character...Though they encounter opposition, they refuse to be deterred.....Though other ministers ridicule them, they act according to God’s Word and Ways...God does not fail them, but honors their trust....The more one receives from God, the more they should share with others....The servant of God who is faithful in giving to others will themselves receive even more.

If we examine, though, what happened before and after today's selection of John's gospel, we see an even deeper message than any of these listed above. We know from previous verses of this gospel that it is the last Passover before Jesus' death....he knows he has little time to show how he is the manna sent from heaven to feed the people; and we know from just a few verses immediately after this passage that Jesus directly tells the people that he is the Bread of Life! While the people's hearts were set on the earthly, on the physical benefits they could receive if Jesus would be their king, he tries to explain to them who and what He really is. He is the great I AM, the very revelation of God becoming one of us to save us all.

Bread, is a basic staple of life; it is one of the basic means by which our life is supported here on earth. Without bread we die. So it is in the spiritual realm. Jesus is necessary food for our souls. Jesus is the absolute staple of spiritual life... the soul's basic and only need...the living Bread, able to impart spiritual life as well as to sustain it, able to give it as well as to keep it, able to bestow it as well as to nourish it and make it grow. Just as other foods are more tantalizing than bread, other things will tantalize our spiritual tastes (status, control, fame, wealth), but they only leave us empty in the end. Other saviors may promise us satisfaction, but only Christ fills our soul with grace that saves from sin and death, with grace that fills us with peace and life with God and the hope of eternal life.

As we gather today at the Lord's table, we recognize all the hungers we have that need to be fed-- our physical needs and wants yes, but more importantly, our personal weaknesses and failures; our need to grow in faith and obedience; our ignorance and lack of spiritual discernment, our needs of guidance and wisdom, courage, honesty and character......As we gather today at the Lord's table, we recognize too, that we already have been given food to share ... our gifts, talents, and God-given ministries, not forgetting Jesus himself, his teachings, his love, his forgiveness, his constant presence....At every Eucharistic gathering, our souls are nourished and our 'baskets' are we leave the holy gathering, we carry away with us, the resources that we will need for the week ahead. We, too, can perform wonders in our own time and place, by imitating the four "Eucharistic verbs” of Jesus: a) take humbly and generously what God gives us, b) bless it by offering it to others in God’s love, c) break away from our own needs and interests for the sake of others, d) give with joy-filled gratitude to God who has blessed us with so much.

I call all of us this week to REFLECT on these questions:

What meaning should we seek in that Jesus worked this incredible, important miracle through the gift offered by a child (one of the 'least' in Jewish society)?

What meaning should we seek in that Jesus didn't ask qualifications of anyone whom he fed?

When did God's generosity, abundance, and graciousness "feed" me when I felt weary, alone, empty or dissatisfied?"

What word or resolve will I carry away with me in my basket today with which to feed others?

Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jesus' Mission Goes on the Road

The 15th Sunday in Ordinary time

Mark 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick--no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them." So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Today’s gospel reading from Mark recalls a development in the mission of Jesus that concerns us all. He makes his disciples sharers in his mission. In Mark’s telling of the story of Jesus this comes immediately after his own townspeople have rejected him at the end of his Galilean ministry. If, during his earthly life, he is not to fulfill the great mission he has received from his Father in person, he will do so through his disciples. Initially he will employ the twelve collaborators who symbolize the New Israel through whose life the Savior will be present in every age.

We who take part in this liturgy have all been called to share in Christ’s great mission to the whole world. As we ponder this we should recall that God’s call is mysterious, originating in the eternal designs of God – as Paul writes, ‘Before the world was made, God chose us, chose us in Christ’. God’s call does not match our human expectations. Amos, the 8th century prophet, was a farmer who found himself charged with the daunting task of challenging the hypocrisy evident in the worship of the northern shrine of Bethel. The Twelve Apostles called by Jesus were an unlikely group, with backgrounds as varied as fishing, tax collecting and terrorism. Jesus sends them out with instructions that make very clear the seriousness of the task he is sharing with them: absolute reliance upon the ‘authority’ they have received from him, and an unselfishness and single-mindedness that will commend them to their listeners.

Their mission reflects the mission Jesus has been engaged in: the call to a ‘repentance’ which is open to what God is about to do, ‘casting out devils’ and healing the sick. (The modern reader should not be distracted by the gospels’ frequent references to exorcism. The culture of the society in which Jesus lived assumed – as many cultures do, even today – that ills and maladies, physical and psychological, are due to the influence of evil spirits. Jesus’ mission to triumph over all evil was inevitably seen as a conflict with evil powers.)

It is enlightening to compare the second reading’s summary of key themes of Paul’s thought with the themes the Twelve took with them on the missions on which Jesus ‘began to send them’. What Jesus promised as he announced the coming of God’s Kingdom was far from clear to them. They were sustained by their admiration of Jesus and the authority with which he had inaugurated his mission. The Christians for whom the letter to the Ephesians was written knew the fulfillment of all that Jesus had promised.

The blessings brought by the Paschal Mystery were beyond imagining for the Twelve as they told their hearers of the coming of God’s Kingdom. Paul, on the other hand, can tell the world of the ‘mystery’, God’s design from all eternity, as he ‘chose us in Christ’, and determined to bring the whole of creation ‘together under Christ’. In our text are many of the great themes with which our faith gives expression to the blessings brought by the Paschal Mystery: ‘grace’, ‘freedom’, ‘adoption’, ‘inheritance’ and ‘the seal of the Spirit’. It also tells us today of the importance of our community, and how this community is meant to pray together, support each other and grow together.

I think over the years we may have lost this aspect of community, and instead we get the Sunday Christian who comes to Mass, prays and goes home. No, we are a community and that implies doing things together – two by two – supporting one another, grieving with one another, sharing joys and sorrows, praying together, listening and discussing what God is saying to us. Only then are we prepared, as Jesus prepared his apostles, to go out to others outside our community and invite them to join us, and to bring our prayers, our healing, our help.

It is interesting to note how much a thing Mark makes of the poverty that Jesus sends his apostles out in. They are to have little to nothing. Their mind must be on the mission, not on their daily needs. “Give us this day our daily bread” was definitely played out in the apostles’ lives when they were out. They were to have sandals on their feet to allow them to travel distances, they had a staff which was a symbol of authority (one of the reasons Bishops today carry staffs) and they could take no sack to store up any food they might be given. Since they had no resources, they were to rely on God completely, and stay free of distractions. It would also mean that people would have to be hospitable to them, which is something that Jesus also was teaching and which became a principle of life in the early church.

Also, it let people see that they were not doing this for their own gain, but because they believed in the message. Not everyone will accept our invitation to join us, just as not everyone accepted the apostle’s invitation and message. When Jews used to come from Gentile territory they would shake off the dust on their feet before they entered a house. The Apostles were to shake the dust off their feet of any who would not accept them or hear their message. They were not to be discouraged, however. Their job was to bring the message. Success was in God’s hands, not theirs.

Finally, we learn exactly what the apostles did when they went out two by two. First, the preached repentance – which if you remember from previous homilies, meant turning your life around, changing your priorities, focusing your heart differently. In the Catholic church, we believe In the Sacrament of the Sick, and this passage is the Biblical basis for it. The apostles anointed the sick with oil and cured them. Today, when someone is sick, we use oil and anoint them. It used to be used only when someone is near death, but is much more widely used today for any sickness.

So, to draw to a close, I want you to realize that God is calling you to be a prophet. As we often sing: All That Is Hidden will be made clear. What you have heard in the dark, proclaim in the light. Listen to him. He will answer you. God is asking you to commit to your community our larger church community of this world, and when you are ready, be a prophet: go out to others in Jesus’ name, not worrying yourself about anything except sharing what you have heard from Jesus and carrying out whatever service you can do in the larger community. Let us pray that today we listen, answer and take action.

 Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Take the Time to Rest in the Lord

The 16th Sunday in Ordinary time

Mark 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Today's short gospel reading shows us how concerned Jesus was for the disciples, who seem to be physically exhausted after being out on the mission trail. Saint Mark says that there were so many people making demands on them that they didn't even have time to eat, and so Jesus tells them to "come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while".

When the crowds follow then and continue to press their claims on the disciples, Jesus himself takes over and allows the disciples to carry on resting. Of course Jesus knew from his own experience how the disciples felt. So many people came to him that he often had to escape and go off by himself to rest, to pray and to get his energy back. Mark doesn't try to hide the fact that Jesus was liable to fatigue just like anyone else. As far as we're concerned I dare say that most of our normal work and our activities aren't exactly identical to the great missionary efforts that the disciples undertook, but whatever we're doing most of the time we can still get tired like them so that we need to take a rest.

Some Christians, I think, are tempted to think that if we're going about our spiritual lives the right way God gives us a sort of boundless energy for activity - for helping other people in some way, perhaps, or for some other activity we identify as "God's work". The truth is, this is probably a bit presumptuous. It's wiser to be more humble and to admit to ourselves that occasionally we suffer the same tiredness and lack of energy as everyone else.

 Jesus didn't make the mistake of thinking he could carry on, indefinitely, without any kind of break, so neither should we. That's the first thing we can say, perhaps, about how this advice of Jesus might apply to us in the circumstances of our own lives. But the other way in which Jesus' attitude is relevant to us today is that it challenges the hostility that exists in our culture to the idea that quiet and stillness and just doing nothing are valuable in themselves and sometimes even necessary.

Over the last twenty years or so our society appears to have made a kind of fetish out of constant activity and restlessness. Even a lot of supposed leisure activities and forms of relaxation seem to be very busy and hectic, a matter of achieving "targets". Some people seem to feel guilty if they're not permanently exhausted. They don't think they've had a good holiday, for example, if they can't come back and boast to everyone about how shattered they are on account of all the activities they've packed into a week or a fortnight.

The reality is that freedom from activity and stimulation gives us time to think things through and reflect about things in a way we can't do if we're busy all the time. But rather than benefiting from a period of inactivity and stillness when they get it, many people now seem to have acquired an intolerance to peace and quiet. If they've got nothing to do, they panic. Almost immediately they become bored and restless.It would be far healthier, physically, mentally and spiritually, if they realized that we all need some free time to recuperate our energies, not just so that we can carry on our work better when we go back to it, but so as to maintain a sense of balance and inner equilibrium.

The feeling of being buried under a mountain of "things to do" gradually has a damaging effect on our personality: it causes depression and a gradual festering of anger and aggression. Whereas, if we remember to take a rest when we need it, we save other people from the bad temper and irritation that come to the surface more easily when we're feeling worn-out. In the gospel passage today Jesus is concerned that the disciples withdraw for a period so as to get some quiet and rest. We should take note of the fact that his first concern isn't that they should be spending more time praying or meditating. Jesus promotes leisure and relaxation as desirable in its own right, without reference to any higher "spiritual" justification.

But having said that, another reason why rest is necessary is that the more exhausted we are, the more difficult it is to pray or to keep up any kind of devotional practice or regular contact with God. It's a truism of spiritual direction that we need to acquire a certain level of stillness and calm in order to pray properly and nothing interferes with stillness as much as feeling harassed, rushed, distracted. The temptation, when we're busy and agitated, is to put off praying or turning to God in a state of quiet and relaxation.

Experience should tell us that we have to plan deliberately to set aside such moments. If we wait for them to happen spontaneously we're likely to end up losing the habit of prayer altogether. So there are all kinds of reasons why quiet, rest and leisure are important factors even from a spiritual point of view, and not just because people who work hard need a physical break from time to time. This is the sort of wisdom that Jesus takes for granted in the case of the disciples, and it's surely a principle that we also can use to order the priorities in our own lives.

 Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jesus Teaches in the Temple

The 14th Sunday in Ordinary time

                                           Mark 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, "Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

If Mark's Gospel were a newspaper it would be a headline like in any newspaper — meaning that the syntax is short and punchy, to the point and direct. There is a perception that a tabloid newspaper is inferior to a broadsheet (or compact) and in many ways it is. However, the great skill of this medium is in its journalistic craft, its ability to grab a reader's attention, and Mark has this skill in abundance. So much is packed into these verses today. It is a rich vein, to adopt a mining analogy, of insight, treasure and revelation. Let's get mining!

Who are we following when we say we are 'Christians'? The question seems so obvious that most of us think it a silly question even to ask: it's obviously 'Jesus', isn't it? But the question is not silly, nor is the answer obvious, because who Jesus is and what he means to us is far from obvious. Indeed, it is because it is anything but obvious that there have been so many disputes down the centuries among Christians, and there is a whole branch of Christian theology called 'Christology'.

Let us begin by noting that most people like 'to keep it simple' — and that means they imagine there should be a simple answer to the question 'who is Jesus?' — but the reality is that life is complex, and the more any issue involves human beings, the more complex life becomes. Everyone knows that her/his human relationships are complex — how many of us can really say 'I know myself!' — so why think that understanding Jesus is easy?

The situation recorded in today's gospel shows a reaction that must have been widespread: the local people have Jesus in one box in their imaginations: he is the guy from down the road —they know him, his brothers and sisters, and his background. For anyone who comes from their town they have a box for what they expect for and from that person: fine to get him to do a job for you, fine to go to the well with his sisters, fine to engage with them socially. That's all there is to them: another family, just like us, and they should not think of themselves as anything special. So if Jesus stands up and presents himself as a leader, that is just not quite what they expect of him!

On the other hand, they have heard him in the synagogue: he comes across as one filled with wisdom, he is a teacher like they have heard, he speaks in a way they have always imagined a prophet would speak. They have another box marked 'prophet' and he seems to fit there too! But that box comes with a label: prophets are very distant from everyday life, they are exceptional in every way, they are 'not like us'.

So when these people find that Jesus ticking both the box marked 'prophet' and ticking the box marked 'ordinary person' / 'regular guy' /'one of our own,' they cannot cope with this complexity. So, since they are more sure that he is the guy down the road, they reject him as a prophet.

Faith is the ability to imagine that God's goodness is greater and closer than the bits-and-pieces around us and the ups-and downs of life. In this case, faith was the ability to imagine that God was so close that Jesus was both the guy from down the road and the great prophet and the wise teacher and more besides. But the group could not make that leap of imagination —and Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.

Would we have been among that group that could not imagine that God's goodness was that close? Can Jesus also be amazed at our lack of faith, even though we have read and hear so much about him from down through the ages by countless prophets and Evangelists.

Surely not! After all, we are Christians, who publicly declare our faith in Jesus each week in the creed. We say that we have faith and that we believe. We say we know that Jesus is “God with us”.

However, we, too, have problems of our own in imagining the goodness of God coming close to us in Jesus. For many people, it is fine to think of Jesus as a wise teacher —a proclaimer of great religious or moral truths — and as such one who should inspire us to high ideals. This is all true, but is there a label on that box which may say to us: 'Not needed on a day-to-day basis in life'?

Mark has one clear goal and purpose in this Gospel passage, which is to lead his readers to understand that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah and to help them open up their hearts and minds to grasp what this truly means, that he is also God made man. Mark does this, however, against the backdrop of the resistance, unbelief and rejection which were part and parcel of Jesus' public ministry.

Isn’t that also true of our belief in Jesus, today. How do we view this Jesus who came to us as a man, but in reality, is God? Can we grasp this awesome concept? Can we understand that the life and ministry of Jesus is in reality God among us, showing us the possibility of what we can become if only we have faith and belief in him? Can God really care for us that much that he chooses to be right there among us? And if we do believe that, what does that mean for our own lives? Does it change our reality? Does it change the belief of what we can become and what we need to do for those around us?

These are questions that we each have to answer for ourselves. In truth it is easier to believe that Jesus was nothing special and neither are we. But, with God’s help, we can become all that God wants to love us to be. We only have to be aware and to recognize that great love that is being offered to us. Think about it. Free will is an awesome responsibility, but it is also God’s awesome gift to us. How will we use it?

                                               Valentine Faith Community
                                                     Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
                                                       2670 Chandler Avenue
                                                         Suite 7 & 8
                                                           Las Vegas, NV 89120
                                                  702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Healing Presence of Jesus

The 13th Sunday in Ordinary time
Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again to the other shore, a large crowd gathered, and so he stayed by the lakeside. Then, one of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward, and seeing Jesus, fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with Jesus, saying,
"My daughter is at the point of death. Please! - Come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live."
Jesus went with him, and a large crowd followed, pressing upon him from all sides. Now in the crowd, there was a woman who had been afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years;
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had seeking a cure. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up secretly behind him in the crowd, and touched his cloak. She had told herself, "If I can touch even just the hem of his clothes, I shall be made well again." Immediately, after touching Jesus' cloak, her flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. And Jesus, aware at once that healing power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
The disciples said to Jesus, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'" But Jesus continued to look around to see who had done it. Then the woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, " My daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of your affliction."
While Jesus was still speaking, some people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said to him, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher any longer?" Disregarding this message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Come, and Do not be afraid; just have faith." Jesus did not allow anyone to accompany him
except Peter, James, and James' brother, John.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, Jesus caught sight of a huge commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. So he went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." At this, they all began to ridicule Jesus, so he put them all outside. Jesus took the child's father and mother and his own companions and entered the room where the girl lay. Taking her hand, he said to her, "Talitha, koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" Immediately, the girl, a child of twelve, arose and began to walk around. At this, all were overcome with astonishment. Jesus, though, gave strict orders that no one should know of this and told the family to give the little girl something to eat.
In all three synoptic gospels, the raising of Jairus' daughter and the cure of the woman with the 12-yr hemorrhage are combined, one story sandwiched within the other -- the term for which is "intercalation".This suggests that the 2 stories can be better understood in relation to each other...indeed, that one interprets the other.
There are several similarities between the two stories...both have to do with the curing of women--women who both for different reasons were considered by their society to be useless in their present condition;both women remain nameless; both of their circumstances render them unclean (the young girl becomes a corpse, and the woman's bleeding makes her continuously unclean and untouchable)........both are 'as good as dead'...both are restored by the 'touch' of Jesus, as he rejects his culture's degradation of women. Both Jairus and the woman had a great need, they both believed that Jesus was the only one left who could help them;they both threw caution to the wind (risking ridicule and even punishment); and they both humbly fell at Jesus' feet in their worship and entreaty. The term 'daughter' recurs (Jairus describes his daughter's grave illness, and Jesus addresses the woman as 'Daughter".)
Jairus' daughter is '12 yrs old' (the normal age for marriage, perhaps already promised to someone, meaning that Jairus was facing financial loss, as well as social disgrace, in addition to personal sorrow for his daughter's illness and death) 12 yrs is the same length of time the other woman has suffered hemorrhages ( and given the life-expectancy of the time, basically, this suffering has gone on most probably, for her whole adult life) The 2 cures are very public affairs, witnessed by many....but at the same time, the cure and the resuscitation are inward and private....Both Jairus and the woman had the opposite options of fear and faith, and they both chose faith.
Let us look first at Jairus....he is described as one of the leaders of the synagogue, the main teaching institution of Israel since the time of the return from exile in the 6th century BCE. As we know, many of the Jewish authorities (whether Pharisees, scribes, or Sadducees) took issue with Jesus' preaching and actions, and determined from his earliest public life, to put him to death. Yet, here is Jairus, who not only believed that Jesus was capable of healing his daughter, but also that Jesus would do so if asked !!! It took a lot of courage, with much risk to his standing in the synagogue and in the community, for Jairus to beg for Jesus' help in such a public, demonstrative way....his faithful expectation is rewarded, as Jesus straight away starts following him to his home where his daughter lays so gravely ill.
Jairus' hope must have been short-lived though, for immediately their journey back to the house is interrupted by an unnamed woman, who picked that moment to exercise her faith and create her own commotion. In a subtle, but powerful way Mark identifies this woman with Jesus. The phrases "suffered greatly" and 'afflicted' describing her torture are the same words used by Mark in Jesus' passion predictions to describe the outcome of his journey to Jerusalem [Mk 8:31; 10:34]. Let us just picture this woman, suffering from a bleeding uterus for 12 agonizing years, going from one doctor to another, having exhausted all her funds and yet remaining unhealed. Shamed because she was labeled unclean by the rabbis and ostracized due to Levitical prohibition to touch others and to be touched, the woman was desperate. Life was ebbing out of her day by day, not to mention the debilitating stigma resulting from years of gossip and innuendo that her ailment was caused by her sin of sex...she is physically, spiritually, financially, and socially empty and alone......Then she heard of Jesus and believing he could help, traveled the 30 miles to Capernaum; but as a social outcast, she did not have the nerve to ask him for help.
Unable to really communicate with anyone else, she is described as shoring up her confidence by talking to herself...She has no one to run interference for her, no one to intercede on her behalf as Jairus did for his daughter, so she approaches Jesus secretly, from behind. Remember that people in the crowd are pressing upon Jesus from all sides, so to reach him she must push and shove and elbow her way between people when tiny openings occur. She is weak; her strength is drained, and yet she will not give up. She must reach Jesus, and so she continues to wedge her body through the crowd until she comes up behind him. She has decided in her heart, "If I can just touch the hem of his clothes, I will be healed." She does not want to confront him in public, and so is crouching low, crawling, on her knees; she is too ashamed to admit the nature of her illness, and too afraid of being rebuked and punished for mingling with others in her unclean state. She must do this without revealing anything about herself; but she must touch him....she must.
By the way, and this is the IRONY of the story, dozens of people in this crowd had been touching Jesus in these few minutes of moving towards Jarius' house, but only one (this ill, but determined woman) touched Jesus with faith that released his saving power -- so we see, that unfortunately, it is quite possible to be in the immediate vicinity of Jesus without receiving his salvation because of our own lack of faith
By law the woman's touch would have made Jesus unclean; but by His grace, just the opposite happened. "Immediately her bleeding stopped". Without a word, a look, or a touch from Jesus, she was made whole simply by believing he could heal her and by acting on that faith. But her heart must have really started to pound when Jesus, realizing that healing power had gone out from him, kept looking for the one who had done it !!... The disciples thought he was being silly; the woman thought she was caught. And Jairus??? We wonder what he was thinking !!! He just wanted Jesus to get to his house as quickly as possible....and here they were wasting, precious moments on seeking useless information!
Jesus wasn't looking to accuse the woman, but to affirm her, only at the time she did not know that -- but the same faith that enabled her to stretch out her hand to touch Jesus, now gave her the strength to step forward and tell everyone her whole story. Mark notes that the woman spoke the 'whole truth" -- similarly, Jesus is recognized even by those seeking to entrap him, as a 'truthful man' -- not concerned with anyone's opinion. Here this woman is, shunned for years, and now suddenly Jesus wants to listen to everything! Very likely she began hesitantly, and as she witnessed, with Jesus patiently and lovingly standing and listening to her every word, she continued at length, until Jesus responded with great affection and tenderness, calling her "Daughter' , thus linking her with the other 'daughter' whose life was hanging by a thread. With this single word from Jesus, 12 years of pain and isolation were swept away...In no other gospel account does Jesus use this term of endearment and respect. Daughter.
Jesus was not condemning her after all, but acknowledging her faith .......Although the witness of women is not valid in Judaism and women's testimony is not accepted later by the Christian male leaders, such as Peter [Luke 24:10-11], the witness of this woman is confirmed and celebrated by Jesus himself, thus naming her a disciple as well as a daughter.....In making her actions so very public, Jesus was saying that it wasn't his clothing, but that it was her faith that healed her, saved her, made her well and made it possible for her to return to society....this was a life-giving moment for her!!!!... but not so for Jairus....who was having to listen to a recital of 12 yrs of sickness and doctor troubles, with rising distress at what this delay meant for his own daughter.
For just at that moment, came the news to Jairus that his daughter had just died !!! It was too late; Jesus didn't get there in time. How might an important person react to this news that an interruption by some unkempt, unclean, homeless person turned out to have fatal consequences for his child???We can only wonder...because, Jairus is not given an opportunity to respond. Instead, Jesus turned to him and said, "Come, don't be afraid; just believe." Jesus was offering him a choice--fear, anger and sadness, or BELIEF. He had just witnessed the faith of the homeless woman and seen its powerful results; he could learn from her he led Jesus to his home. At this point of learning that his daughter had died, Jairus could have lost heart and given up or keep believing that even now, Jesus was both able and willing to help him.In our own waiting moments it's of course much longer than those few minutes that Jairus had to wait, but the lesson is the same and the questions we must ask ourselves are the same.....
What is draining me in my faith life?
What draws me to believe that Jesus can heal me?
Has my faith ever moved mountains?
Do I believe that I can have faith enough to move mountains?
Do I know that I can learn to have faith to move mountains?
In reading these stories together, we can see that there is no limit to the good that God can do. One person is not healed at the expense of another. Those choices do not have to be made -- ie., either/or, one wins/the other loses,.....Jesus demonstrated that our life-giving God is present and caring for everyone--rich or poor, male or female. The young girl, like the hemorrhaging woman, were considered outside the boundaries of cleanness and holiness--but are now included in the righteousness found by faith in Jesus -- which is not dependent on or beholden to, any human standards to the contrary. No one is more important than another.
Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
702-998-2220 Office
702-998-2221 FAX
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)