13 SUNDAY 2012B
In the Gospel Reading, Jairus wades fearlessly into the crowd around Jesus and interrupts whatever Jesus is doing. Jairus puts aside all the usual official prejudices against the wandering preacher and goes to him, even falling down before Jesus, to beg for the life of his daughter. Jairus is an important person, an official of the synagogue; and his twelve-year old daughter is dangerously sick. He was in a panic. Jairus believes that Jesus could heal his daughter, but only if he comes right away. And so Jairus urges Jesus to drop everything and come.
Sickness and death have a way of shearing through the veneer of our self-importance and social status. These things touch us at our most vulnerable point. Sickness and death strip us of our illusions. We are from the same piece of cloth.
Jesus does turn immediately to go with Jairus. But then Jairus’s interruption of Jesus is itself interrupted. Jesus stops dead and demands to know who touched him.
“Who touched you?” his disciples say in disbelief. Everybody touched you! You are in the middle of a big crowd pressing all around you.
But as we know there was someone who touched Jesus in a special way. She was a woman who had had an issue of blood for twelve years, just as many years as Jairus had had a daughter. Under Mosaic law, she was unclean all that time. Anyone who touched her was ritually unclean. In fact, anyone who touched anything she sat on or slept on was unclean. She had spent all her money on doctors, but they only made her worse.
So she was poor, outcast, and scared of being noticed. Unlike Jairus, she didn’t dare interrupt Jesus to press her own concerns on him.“Who touched me?” In fear and trembling she stepped forward. Why she was afraid? She was not really afraid of Jesus. She was afraid because she should not have been there at all. And that is why she had not approached him openly in the first place. Her hemorrhage made her ritually unclean and, if the people around had known about it, she would have been in deep trouble as she could render unclean anyone who touched her.
“Who touched me?” She had touched him. She was trembling when she had to face Jesus. Shame such as hers makes a person desperate to be invisible.
Now her secret is going to be exposed; no wonder she is even more afraid. In her great need, she had not been willing to put herself forward, as Jairus had done. She was willing to be of no-account, unnoticed—as long as she could be healed. But Jesus was not willing to tolerate her own estimation of herself. He didn’t see the ailment. He saw the person. And He healed her. What a beautiful story of compassion. He made the official of the synagogue wait for her. “Daughter,” Jesus says to her, “your faith has saved you. “
In that one word, ‘daughter’, Jesus healed her shame as well as her blood-flow. He showed her and all the crowd around her that she was to him what Jairus’s daughter was to Jairus.
So the story goes back to the little girl. The little girl was the main reason for Jesus’ rushing away. Notice the brutal directness used by those telling Jairus about his daughter’s death—you’ve no need to trouble the Master any more, she’s dead.
Look at his touching concern for Jairus’ faith—don’t be afraid, only have faith—what warm and supportive words!
The people at the house mocked Jesus when he said, “She is not dead, but asleep.” Jesus goes into the room along with three disciples, Peter, James and John, and the terrified parents. He raised the girl up, and then, he turned to the parents and said, “She’s hungry. Give her something to eat.” He tells the parents to resume caring for their child.
A defiled lady, a dead child, and our Compassionate Savior. In his willingness to set the needs of others before his own plans and desires, Jesus remains the example for every minister. Had Jesus insisted on keeping to his own agenda, the lives of many people would have been quite different. He could have told Jairus and the woman to make an appointment. He could have insisted that his agenda did not allow for distractions such as these. However, Jesus knew that in healing the bold woman of faith and raising Jairus’ daughter he was preaching a powerful and persuasive gospel ... all because he was flexible enough to take the time to do so.
In a song written for his son Sean, “Beautiful Boy”, the late John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” The same could be said of ministry.
Do we have the faith to touch and be touched by Jesus so that whatever is dead within us may be restored to life? What did she risk when she joined the crowd to touch Jesus’ garment? What did Jairus risk? Does your faith involve you in risk-taking?
God wants to touch us. It wasn’t enough that she pushed through the crowds and touched Jesus. He wanted to touch her! He wanted to look into her eyes, listen to her story, and assure her personally that it really was her faith and trust in him that saved her.
In a sense, Jesus was just as persistent as this woman was. It didn’t matter that he was on his way to heal someone’s daughter. He still took the time to reach out to this lonely, desperate woman because she mattered to him just as much as the important, influential Jairus did.
We were made for communion with God—and Jesus longs for communion with us!
Our superficial differences are set aside as together we reach out to touch him. And touch him we do in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine, his holy body and blood. Let us recognize our need for healing and know that if he comes under our roof we shall be healed.
“Jesus, I believe that even now, you are looking for me, waiting for the opportunity to speak to me and touch my heart. Here I am, Lord!”
They risked it all to come to him:
Jairus, risked his pride,
kneeling to a carpenter, begging for his daughter’s life,
The woman with the blood risked shame and disgrace
heaped upon her by the crowd.
we are just like Jairus.
And we bleed like the woman. We want to touch you
with the faith you give us. Heal us.