Year B – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jairus and Two Daughters

(Wis.1:13-15, 2:23-24; 2Cor.8:7, 9, 13-15; Mk.5:21-43)

Today’s Gospel is crafted like a sandwich. It gives us the story of Jairus’ daughter, and in the middle of it we’re given another story about a suffering woman.

Both stories have something to teach us about our faith.

They begin with Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee and meeting a crowd of people on the other shore. Jairus is in that crowd. He falls to his knees and begs Jesus to save his dying daughter.

Sometimes we are like Jairus, desperately asking Jesus for help.

Notice how Jesus responds. He listens to Jairus, but He makes him wait. Jesus could have healed the girl immediately, just as He healed the Centurion’s servant in Capernaum. But He delays. Why? One reason is because Jesus wants Jairus to spend time with Him. But He also wants him to learn.

Sometimes we, too, have to wait when we pray for something, and sometimes that waiting is for a long time. Perhaps we’re praying for the wrong thing, or maybe Jesus simply wants us to develop patience and trust, and to go much, much deeper into our faith.

If Jesus always gave us quick solutions, how often would we simply return to our ordinary lives, unchanged? Clearly, Jesus wants us to grow.

Happily, from time to time while we’re waiting, He sends us encouraging signs. That’s what happens to Jairus today. As he walks with Jesus towards his house, Jairus sees Jesus heal someone else. He witnesses Jesus healing the suffering woman. Seeing that strengthens Jairus’ faith and it puts a spring in his step.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you seen or heard about someone else being helped while you were waiting for your own prayers to be answered? This is a gift, an encouraging sign meant to help us keep going. 

In today’s second story – the filling in the sandwich – we meet a woman who has been suffering for years. She knows all about waiting, and she has tried everything to solve her own problem. Now she realises that her only hope is Jesus, and this has given her profound faith.

She is convinced that all she has to do is touch Jesus, and she’ll be healed.  And that’s exactly what happens: she touches Jesus’ cloak and she’s instantly healed.

This famous story emphasises the importance of patience and trust, and it reminds us of the importance of touch.

When that woman reaches out to touch Jesus, He feels His power drain from Him. ‘Who touched me?’ He asks. The disciples think He’s just being silly, because they were all inside a bustling crowd. But being accidentally nudged is not the same as a personal, believing touch, for touch can be incredibly powerful: it can heal; it can console, and as Helen Keller discovered, it can teach, as well.

Helen Keller (1880 – 1968) caught meningitis before she was two years old, and it left her deaf and blind. The only way her teacher could communicate with her and teach her how to read, write and speak was through touch.

One day, she put Helen’s hand under the water pump, and with her finger repeatedly signed w-a-t-e-r on her palm. Through touch, she found a way to break through to Helen and unlock her brilliant mind.

Touch became Helen Keller’s lifeline to the world, just as it’s an important link between ourselves and those we love.

And touch is an important element in our relationship with Jesus, too. You might not have thought about it much, but every time you come forward for the Holy Eucharist, you stretch out your hands to receive Jesus Himself.

Are you aware of this? Do you feel Jesus’ personal touch when you receive Him at Communion? And does Jesus feel your loving touch in return?

Or is it all just a mindless gesture?

There is so much wisdom embedded in our two sandwiched Gospel stories today. Jairus’ prayer was answered, but he had to wait. And while he waited he received an encouraging sign that strengthened his faith.

The suffering woman had to wait, too, and that waiting convinced her that the only answer to her prayers was Jesus Himself.  

And both stories demonstrate the importance of a loving touch. Jesus reaches out to touch Jairus’ daughter, and she is healed. The suffering woman reaches out to touch Jesus, and she too is healed.

When we reach out to receive the Holy Eucharist today, let’s remember that we’ll be touching Jesus Himself.

Let’s do so with deep reverence, faith, and love.