Jesus’ touch brings new life

30 June, 2024 13th Sunday Year B

Today we continue with readings from Mark’s gospel. Earlier in this chapter, Jesus has demonstrated his divine mastery over destructive forces of nature (in calming the sea) and over a legion of demons who were afflicting a man (in the exorcism of a deeply troubled person).


Mark brings his account of the miracles which Jesus worked to a climax in one of Mark’s most striking stories. His accounts of Jesus’ miracles culminate in the healing of two women, both of whom are restored to new life, wholeness and holiness because of the touch of Jesus. Here Jesus demonstrates his divine mastery—and the power of the Kingdom and of his Lordship—over disease and even death.


Notice how Mark intertwines two miracle stories here, sandwiching one story within another: the healing of the woman with a haemorrhage who touches Jesus’ clothing, and the raising of the Jairus’ daughter. Both the woman (we don’t know her name) and Jairus demonstrate great faith and trust in Jesus.


Given the growing tension between Jesus and the synagogue officials, it is remarkable that Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, had the courage and the humility to approach Jesus and to beg Jesus to come and save his daughter who was dying. The daughter was desperately ill and Jairus was clearly desperate for her. Jesus immediately sets out for Jairus’ home, with the crowd accompanying them, pressing in on them.


In that pressing crowd, the unnamed woman, who has suffered for years with a haemorrhage, sees and takes the opportunity to come close to Jesus and she boldly dares to touch him, confident that touching him will heal her. And it does. She knows immediately that she is healed. He senses that power has gone out of him and calls on whoever it was who touched him to come forward.


In fear and trembling, she confesses. But, instead of chastising her, he praises her, affectionately addressing her as “Daughter,” and commending her: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” The word ‘touch’ appears four times in this story of the healing of the woman with the haemorrhage.


Meanwhile, back to the story of Jairus, people from Jairus’s home arrive, announcing that Jairus’ daughter has died. It is, they think, too late to do anything. But Jesus says: “Do not fear; only believe.” Just keep on believing! They head to Jairus’ home. Jesus takes the young woman by the hand, and she is restored to life. With great affection, Jesus speaks to her, telling her to get up, and telling her parents to give her something to eat. Again, we notice that Jesus restores the young woman to life by touching her.


In both of these miracles, Jesus’ touch brings new life, wellness, wholeness, and holiness. See how he responds with care and compassion to those who seek his help. He does for us too.


Let us pray, as Jesus’ disciples asked of him on another occasion: “Lord, increase our faith!”


Anne Hunt

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