Lectio Divina: Mark 5:21-43
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
help us to love You with all our hearts
and to love all people as You love them.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 5: 21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him and a large crowd followed him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to him, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. 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, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction." While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
• In today’s Gospel, we meditate on two miracles which Jesus worked in favor of two women: the first one for a woman who was considered impure because of the hemorrhage which she was suffering from for the past 12 years; the other one for a twelve year-old girl, who had died a short time before. According to the mentality of the time, anybody who would touch blood or a corpse was considered impure. Blood and death were factors for exclusion! Because of this, those two women were marginalized people and excluded from participation in the community.
• The starting point. Jesus arrives in the boat. The people join Him. Jairus, the head of the synagogue, asks help for his daughter, who is dying. Jesus goes with him and the people accompany Him, pushing on all sides. This is the starting point of the two cases of healing which follow: the cure of the woman and the resurrection of the twelve year-old girl.
• The situation of the woman. Twelve years of suffering from hemorrhage! For this reason she lived excluded, because at that time blood rendered people impure, and the one who touched them became impure also. Mark says that the woman had spent all she had with doctors. And instead of becoming better, she got worse. A situation without a solution!
• The attitude of the woman. She heard people speak about Jesus. Hope sprang up in her. She told herself, “If I can just touch His clothes, I will be saved”. The catechism of the time said, “If I touch His cloak, He will become impure”. The woman thinks exactly the contrary! This is a sign that women did not agree with all that religious authority taught. The woman gets in through the crowd, in the midst of the people, and without being noticed, she touches Jesus, because everybody was touching Him and pushing Him. At that same moment she noticed in her body that she had been cured.
• The reaction of Jesus and that of the disciples. Jesus, aware of the power that had gone out from Him, asked, “Who touched My clothes?” The disciples said to Him, “You see how the crowd is pressing round You; how can You ask, ‘Who touched Me?’” So now comes the clash between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus had a sensitivity which the disciples did not perceive. The disciples reacted like everybody else; they did not understand the different reaction of Jesus. But Jesus did not pay attention and continued to investigate.
• Healing through faith. The woman became aware that she had been discovered. It was a difficult and dangerous moment for her, because according to the belief of the time, an impure person like herself got in among the people and contaminated everyone who touched her. All would become impure before God (Lev 15:19-30). For this reason, the punishment could be stoning. But the woman had the courage to accept the consequences of what she had done. The woman “frightened and trembling” fell at Jesus’ feet and told Him the whole truth. Jesus has the last word: “My daughter, your faith has restored you to health, go in peace and be free of your complaint.”
(a) “Daughter”, with this word Jesus accepts the woman into the new family, into the community which was gathering together around Him. (b) What she thought through faith became a reality. (c) Jesus acknowledges that, without that woman’s faith, He would not have been able to work the miracle.
• The news of the death of the little girl. At that moment some people arrived from the house of Jairus to inform him that his daughter had died. It was no longer necessary to disturb Jesus. For them, death was the great barrier. Jesus will not be able to overcome death! Jesus listens, looks at Jairus, and applies what He had just seen, that faith is capable of realizing what the person believes. And He says, “Do not be afraid, only have faith!”
• In Jairus’ house. Jesus allows only three of His disciples to go with Him. Seeing the commotion of the people weeping and wailing because of the death of the child, He said, “The child is not dead; she sleeps!” The people laughed. They know how to distinguish between a person who is sleeping and when the person is dead. It is the same laughter of Abraham and of Sarah, of those who are unable to believe that nothing is impossible for God (Gn 17:17; 18:12-14; Lk 1:37). For them, death was a barrier which nobody could overcome or go beyond! The words of Jesus had a very profound meaning. The situation of the persecuted communities at the time of Mark seemed to be a situation of death. They needed to hear, “She is not dead! You are sleeping! Wake up!” Jesus does not pay attention to the laughter and enters into the room where the child is, alone, and with the three disciples and the parents of the child.
• The resurrection of the child. Jesus takes the child by the hand and says: “Talitha kum!” She rises. There is a great commotion! Jesus keeps calm and asks that they give her something to eat. Two women are cured! One is twelve years old, the other one twelve years of hemorrhage, twelve years of exclusion! The exclusion of the child begins at twelve years of age, because her menstruation begins; she begins to die! Jesus has the greatest power and resurrects: “Get up!”
4) Personal questions
• What is the point in this text which pleased you or struck you the most? Why?
• One of the women was cured and once again integrated so that she could live in the community. A child was raised from her death bed. What does this action of Jesus teach us for our life in the family and for our community today?
5) Concluding Prayer
From You comes my praise in the thronged assembly;
I will perform my vows before all who fear Him.
The poor will eat and be filled;
those who seek Yahweh will praise Him.
May your heart live for ever. (Ps 22:25-26)