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The Healed Daughters
Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, feed me with your word. Help me to desire your healing and wholeness. Bless me as I encounter you in Scripture today.
- Markan Sandwich: St. Mark used a literary device throughout his Gospel called a “sandwich.” Today’s Gospel reading is a great example. This device helps us understand the shared meaning behind the events in two stories that seem unrelated. Here the story of Jarius and his daughter in the clutches of death is sandwiched in the middle by the story of the woman with a hemorrhage. The key to understanding deeper meaning in this passage is to look for ways that the stories relate. Both are centered on coming to Jesus for healing. Both people were female, and both were miraculously healed. Another similarity is time. The girl was twelve years old, and the woman had suffered with a hemorrhage for twelve years. Her issue of blood made her unable to participate in her community; she was ritually unclean. Consider this: the woman had suffered in this way as long as the girl had been alive, equaling a “lifetime” of isolation, pain, and suffering. The little girl was presumed dead. Both needed Jesus to bring them back to life.
- Desiring Healing: In a mystical way, our healing is connected to our internal disposition; we must want Jesus to heal us. Notice that both Jairus and the woman approached Jesus and desired healing. The woman reached out her hand to touch Jesus and his power flowed out of him to her. It is striking, almost as if she was instrumental in her own healing by reaching out to him. Jesus blessed the woman and told her that her faith saved her. Notice that he addressed her in a familial way, calling her “daughter.” When Jesus approached the little girl, he lifted her up, raising her from the sleep of death and restoring her life, even more powerfully than in the case of the woman. Both are returned to health, life, and community. Our conversion to Christ makes us part of God’s family. Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter and called her “little girl’: “Talitha koum.” The woman who was healed became a “daughter” of God, a “little girl” again. Both have new life in and through Christ. Do I truly desire and believe that I can be healed? Do I want to be God’s beloved child?
- Hidden Sacraments: This passage holds a key to two hidden sacraments. Both Jairus and the woman approached Jesus in humility and fear of the Lord. Jairus “fell at his feet,” and the woman “came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.” This strikes an image of the sacrament of Reconciliation where we humbly kneel at Christ’s feet and confess the truth of the brokenness of our lives. When we make that short pilgrimage to our Church and stand in line for Confession, we are like the woman stretching our hand out to be healed. Another hidden sacrament is the Anointing of the Sick. Both the woman and the little girl were healed by Christ’s touch. In the Anointing of the Sick, the priest touches the sick person on the forehead and hands with blessed oil and speaks words of healing (CCC 1513). Christ’s words are also instrumental, as they are in the absolution at the end of Confession. “The priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent ‘pardon and peace’” (CCC 1424). Jesus tells the woman, “Go in peace, and be healed.” In the sacraments, Christ himself touches and heals us. Do I truly believe that Christ heals me through his sacraments? Do I want to be transformed by the Kingdom of Christ?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I want to be healed in every way that I am broken so that I can give glory to you and serve you with a whole and pure heart. Help me reach out to you when I need to be healed physically, mentally, or spiritually. Heal me with the touch and words of your sacraments, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Restore my life and transform me into my deepest identity as your child.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my conscience and ask you to reveal what is in need of your healing. I will then make a plan to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation.
For Further Reflection: Listen to this Gospel reflection from My Catholic Life!: Seeking Healing. Additionally, you can read about how Mark uses the device of sandwiching in his Gospel in this article, Markan Sandwiches: The Significance of Interpolations in Markan Narratives, from Novum Testamentum.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.
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