Jairus's daughter & the woman with hemorrhage

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

It’s the first day of the last six months of the year and today’s Sunday gospel is a story from Mark 5: 21-43 about the daughter of Jairus and the woman with hemorrhage. These are interesting stories with different interpretations that lead to the same conclusion.

“21 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. 22 One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet 23 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. 24 He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

25 There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. 28 She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”

29 Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, “Who touched me?” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 The woman realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.

35 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?” 36 Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” 37 He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James and John, the brother of James. 38 When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.

39 So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. 41 He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” 42 The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. [At that] they were utterly astounded. 43 He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.”

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The gospel today talks about Jesus Christ the healer and the giver of life. We have two impressive examples in today’s gospel. The story begins with a synagogue official named Jairus whose daughter was at the point of death. Obviously, he has heard of the reports that Jesus Christ was a great healer, so he approached him with his request to the Lord that his daughter may live. As they were going off to the house of Jairus, the crowd was so huge that they pressed upon our Lord Jesus.

It was then that the second story came into the picture when a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for 12 years was also with the crowd. No doubt that she too heard that Jesus was a healer, hence he must come from God. Her faith was so strong that she knew that even if she only touched his cloak, she would be healed. And indeed, our Lord Jesus felt his power had gone or diminished and realized that someone touched his clothes.

Actually he wasn’t angry, he merely wanted to know who touched his clothes and the woman admitted that she was the one who touched his clothes. Our Lord Jesus responded that her faith had healed her. Thus began the Catholic tradition of touching even the clothes of our Christian icons, in the hope that our ailments would be cured.

It was then that the synagogue official was told that his 12-year-old daughter had died. Clearly Jairus had faith in our Lord Jesus, he disregarded the somber report and they entered the girl’s room and our Lord called her to arise, and she did rise up. Was she really dead to start with? Perhaps because the people in the house were already mourning her death. They even ridiculed our Lord for not believing that she was dead.

Our twin gospel narrative has a simple message. First, that our Lord Jesus Christ is a Divine healer, that if one is ill and touches even the cloak of the Lord, that person will be healed. The other story proves that our Lord Jesus is the Resurrection and the Lord of Life… even if one is dead… he can make them come back to life.

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