Homily for the thirteenth Sunday of the year - Year B - Mk. 5:21-43


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, 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." And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.


"And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well." And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. 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. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."


"While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." 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. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha cumi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat."





Homily:


"When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, 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." And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him."


After having celebrated the feasts of Pentecost, of the Holy Trinity, and of Corpus Christi, the Church now resumes, each Sunday, the reading of the Gospel of Saint Mark. Jesus and his disciples are in Galilee, on the edge of the lake. Many are the people who come to the Savior, for they have heard that he performs miracles and healings without number! Among them are one of the rulers of the synagogue: Jairus. Prostrate at the feet of Jesus, he begs him to come and heal his daughter at his home. And Jesus, full of love for all, goes with his disciples.


"And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well." And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease."


In the crowd, a woman follows Jesus closely, even very closely, for she wants to touch his garment at all costs! Unlike Jairus, who wanted Jesus to go to his sick daughter in order to touch her and heal her, this woman, suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years, wants to go up to Jesus in order to touch him herself: "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well." Oddly, this woman has received from God a special grace which seems to authorize her to decide, herself, the moment when she would be healed. For, in this case, Jesus makes no decision to act, apart from the fact of having given this woman the grace, which came from his heavenly Father, to approach him and to receive from his omnipotence the cure for her disease. This woman, who approaches the Savior in order to touch him, is truly a favored daughter of the Father, who freely gave her this power: "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (Jn. 6:65)


"And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. 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. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."


Having touched the garment of Jesus, the woman was cured at once: "And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease." But Jesus, though surrounded by many people, strongly sensed, to the depths of his soul, that someone had touched him in a very special way: he felt that he had been touched on his body, from which his clothing took its form, but also, and especially, on his soul, where the Spirit of God lives, the almighty Spirit, He who truly is "the power of the Most High" (Lk. 1:35). Touched by his clothing, Jesus is touched on his soul, for the woman who wanted to be healed firmly believed that Jesus could grant her this special favor. Through bodily contact, it was the soul of Jesus and that of the woman which touched, in order that He who is holy and pure par excellence might give salvation of the soul and body to she who had faithfully followed the grace coming from the Father. "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."


"While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James."


The episode of the woman who suffered from the hemorrhage visibly marked the life of Jesus: his soul was touched. The events which take place right after the healing of this woman prove this: Jesus will no longer merely heal a girl, but rather he will raise her from the dead! Who knows whether Jesus would have arrived in time if there had not been so many people on the road, and above all if there had not been the woman who had touched him? Without any doubt, the grace which the heavenly Father had granted to this woman in order for her to go to Jesus and be healed mark an important stage in the life of the Savior. Moreover, if Jesus did not take everyone with him, but rather only Peter, James, and John, he did so to signify that the event which was about to take place was among the most important of his public life.


"When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him."


Having arrived at the house of the ruler of the synagogue, Jesus tried to put an end to the lamentations, the tears, and the wailing which testified to the death of the girl. Jesus prophesies; he says: "The child is not dead but sleeping." But, like all the prophets who had announced his reign and his coming, Jesus receives as a response only the mockery and jeers of those who were there lamenting and weeping... Jesus can announce here and there that eternal life will be the reward for a life that is holy and pure before God and men: it is a message that one still accepts rather easily, for, in any case, since it concerns life after death, there is plenty of time before we will see it... But this case is completely different! For if this girl sleeps, it means she will wake up; however, when a dead person awakens, is this not already an anticipation of the final Resurrection, a manifestation, in our time, of eternal Life? So, when one does not want to believe in it, there is only one thing to do: mock it...


"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. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha cumi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat."


They mock Jesus, but he continues on his way, he carries out his mission, that which the Father entrusted to him: to reveal to the whole world that he, himself, is eternal Life. Later, when he will raise his friend Lazarus from the dead, Jesus will declare to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." (Jn. 11:25) And Martha will believe him. Here, too, the father of the dead young girl believes that Jesus is almighty and that he can resurrect she who "sleeps". Jesus gave him the grace to believe, when he said to him: "Do not fear, only believe." This faith is without doubt not very great, but it was manifested in a way that does not mislead: through the simple fact of going to the Savior to invite him to come and visit a sick, and now dead, girl... This sincere and true faith is one which Jesus intends to reward: he takes the hand of the girl, and commands her to rise. The girl rises: she lives, she has returned to life!


Jesus went through a significant and important stage of his human life. He once again resumes his travels with his disciples. Let us follow him, step by step. Let us not be afraid! He will lead us on the road to eternity! He is always with us, notably in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood. Let us go to him with all the ardor of our faith! Let us ask Mary to accompany us and to help us to ceaselessly draw from the source of life and strength, in the Love and the merciful Heart of her Divine Son!