Sunday reflection

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity
“Your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” 

Jesus, in Mark 5:21-43 – today’s Gospel, NRSV.

“Those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them.” Matt Hancock, former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in England, in his resignation statement.

Grab a jab – NHS slogan encouraging walk in Covid vaccinations.

What a coincidence that, in light of Matt Hancock’s resignation over breaking the current social distancing rules whilst having an affair with his aide, today’s Gospel also involves the breaking of rules, although for very different reasons.

Jesus has been approached by Jairus, a man of religious rather than political authority, who is desperate for Jesus to heal his unnamed, dying daughter aged twelve. Despite his status, he humbles himself by falling at Jesus’ feet, pleading for him to make her well – without a word, Jesus goes with him. As crowds follow them, another desperate person approaches Jesus, a nameless woman who has been haemorrhaging blood for twelve years. She is unclean and makes him unclean too by contact. In asking whoever touched his cloak to come forward, some of the disciples are amazed at this with so many people around him and the woman who has been shunned for so long now becomes the centre of attention. She fearfully finds the courage to be truthful about what happened and Jesus praises her for it, telling her that her faith has made her well. The woman is healed but, being delayed by this happening, his daughter has died when they eventually arrive – how hard that must have been for Jairus.

As a leader of the synagogue, Jairus has shown his faith in Jesus as courageously as the healed woman, but this must have been a test for them both as, being dead, his daughter is now also unclean. Jesus is mocked when he tells the mourners that the child is not dead but sleeping, telling Jairus not to fear but to believe. Jesus then takes the child by the hand, breaking the rules of his day, and tells the child to arise. She does, after which he tells her parents to give her food – this is not a healer concerned just for the immediate but for longer term wellbeing too.

In these two stories, both a pillar of the establishment and a social outcast come to Jesus and find healing through him, but not all the disciples are involved in this as only Peter, James and John are allowed to be present with her parents as Jairus’ daughter is healed. Was this linked to some of the disciples questioning him earlier? How did those left out feel about this? Being a disciple also requires humility and faith.

Both women are unnamed – as is Jairus’ wife – and their words are unrecorded but they are also linked by being restored to health after being unclean. The first is now able to return to public life after twelve years of isolation – perhaps caused by gynaecological problems of childbirth – and the other is restored to the threshold of womanhood in those days at the age of twelve. This happens because, for their sakes, Jesus is willing to be in contact with what has been deemed to be unclean so that healing will result, faith is answered and hope renewed.

These two stories tell of rules being broken and barriers being overcome for health to be restored but today, with the necessary procedures regarding the Delta Covid variant, complicated judgements and decisions have to be made for fear of negative outcome. In the midst of it all, contact with Jesus is still possible in asking for spiritual healing through prayer as well as physically being able to grab a jab from the NHS, that health may be fully regained, fear overcome and faith in a more hopeful future may prevail. 
Both Jairus and the unnamed woman came to Jesus seeking their hearts’ desires through healing. As changes happen at the heart of government, families affected by the pandemic come to terms with the outcome and some heartbroken fans mourn Wales crashing out of Euro 2020, what do you ask of him in your heart’s desire for healing and a hopeful future?
With my prayers; pob bendith,
Christine, Guardian.