Friday, 29 June 2012

Next, please

Sunday Gospel;Mark 5:21-43 

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
  Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’
  While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

“Hearts are breakable, and I think even when you heal, you're never what you were before".” Cassandra Clare

When you have read or listened to the Gospels in the past you may have noticed that some people have names and some do not. This doesn't seem to relate to how important they are in scripture - there are no wasted words in the Gospel. But it does relate to how important a person at the time of the event and the telling. Notice that neither the woman nor indeed the daughter are named. The only person of any note is Jairus - and he knows it.

The healing ministry of Jesus is well know as we can see. Jesus is barely off the boat and can go no further. The crowds are waiting on the shore; every one with a need or a request for healing but Jairus is the one who feels able to approach Jesus as an equal; he is a leader of faith and in his eyes rank does have its privileges. That Jesus would immediately go with him surprises no-one. 

It wouldn't even surprise this unnamed woman who had been suffering the same twelve years that the little girl has already lived. Twelve years of wasting her money on false hopes and empty promises. Twelve years of knowing that she was both barren and unclean.  Was Jesus her latest hope or her last? Whichever you believe, she approached Jesus, with nothing to lose, as a nobody. Snaking her hand through the legs of the pressing crowd just to touch....and she is healed.

And Jesus notices. 

You may think why would Jesus challenge her? Why not let her return quietly home with the peace of healing to comfort her? Perhaps because she would walk away still thinking that she was someone who didn't matter; who had stolen a moment of Grace without God even noticing?

God notices; Jesus notices; the Spirit notices. And we should know we are noticed; not only noticed but welcomed. We stand in a circle around our God not in a queue. Everyone is as precious as everyone else. And God has time for our prayers and the prayers of everyone else. Which is why even the death of the child is not enough to take her beyond healing. 

I wonder how often in our own prayers do we think that we are just wasting God's time; that there are more important people to care about; that things have become just too bad for even God to make a difference. That we have run out of time. 

Jesus makes time; in all that is going on; in all that his ministry demands of him; Jesus makes the time for Jairus, his daughter and the woman. In the middle of this chaotic scene of bustling crowds moments of Grace take place; in the weeping and wailing of despair moments of Grace take place; in the comforting gesture of a meal Grace takes place. When faith is present Jesus does not choose between; he chooses both. 

Grant that we are able to serve others with such compassion.
In Jesus' name

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it...” Nicholas Sparks


1 comment:

Lynda said...

Two statements really stood out for me in this excellent post:
1. "We stand in a circle around our God not in a queue." and
2. “Hearts are breakable, and I think even when you heal, you're never what you were before.” Cassandra Clare

Thank you very much.