Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 5:21-43

This Sunday the lectionary offers us two stories which have been woven together: the woman with the haemorrhage and Jairus’ daughter. Both are stories of risk. Both are stories of faith. Both tell us something about how Jesus comes to save us.

Last week we saw Jesus ‘save’ his disciples from a storm at sea. This week the needs are physical too. Mark uses these two stories as vehicles for important truths for his hearers. When Mark tells his stories some commentators see a literary form which was popular in Greco-Roman literary circles, the chreia, a brief anecdote about the words or deeds of a particular person. Mark’s use of this form is unusual as these stories were usually about men. If women were the subjects, the virtues portrayed were often stereotypically feminine.

Mark does something very different with this literary form. The story of the woman with the haemorrhage begins in a place of risk: pushing through the crowd the woman takes the initiative and physically reaches out to touch Jesus. For years she has sought the conventional medical wisdom of the day, but now she relies on her own intuition and wisdom. I love her deep conviction:

‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’

In that moment she risks everything. Her willingness to risk draws her into a life-changing encounter with Jesus. I often wonder if time stood still for her in that moment. Was she oblivious to the crowds, seeing and hearing only Jesus?

‘My daughter, he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’

Here Jesus ministers to the woman in body, mind and spirit. Here is a foretaste of the wholeness that the Kingdom offers. The woman’s bold and simple faith has drawn her to Christ and now she’ll live a life grounded in Christ’s promise to heal and save.

In this coming week how can you seek our Christ who heals and saves?