The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – June 27, 2021
Lectionary Readings: Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Ps 30:2, 4 – 6, 11 -13; 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13- 15; Mark. 5:21-43
Theme: Impossibles of faith and healing
Faith heals. In the Gospel, Mark tells us of two miracles of healing, showing us the power and authority of Jesus over debilitating sickness and even death.
Mark has the special literally style of dovetailing two stories together by sandwiching one event in the midst of another. He set the story of the woman suffering from bleeding (Mark 5:25-34) within the story of the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader (5:21-24, 35-43). I found both of these miracle stories even more powerful and evocative because they are like great love stories performed against all odds by both the seekers and giver of healing from life-threatening situations.
We have the story of a woman in dire need who was physically ill, ritually unclean, and on the brink of utter poverty. Sustained by a hope that she can be “saved”, she dared and risked breaking the laws of ritual purity to touch Jesus. A person with a flow of blood was then ceremoniously defiled and not fit to participate in community or public affairs (Lev 15:19, 25). On the other hand, concern for his gravely ill daughter, made the synagogue leader surprisingly fall at the feet of Jesus. This is unexpected as we recall the plan of Jewish religious leaders to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6). He also disregarded the urging not to disturb Jesus, for his daughter had already died. He still kept hoping against all hope.
In response, Jesus did not rebuke the healed woman. He even admired her faith and said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (5:34). This may not be startling to us today. But by talking to the woman in public, Jesus disregarded the social taboo of women being seen in public and being talked to by a man. Moreover, in the face of unbelief, Jesus told Jarius, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” (Mark 5:36). Jesus also disregarded the stringent taboo against touching a corpse when he took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” In both miracles, Jesus broke the traditional barriers that separated persons from God and from the community to show a new way to love and to be compassionate in the face of human suffering. There are no unclean people of faith before God.
From the Book of Wisdom, we also learn about God’s infinite and borderless love as “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” (Wis 1:13). With immortality equated with righteousness (Wis 1:15, 2:24), we get the meaning of death, not as the biological fact of life but as spiritual death. God does not want us to be separated from him here on earth and beyond. Paul, on the other hand, shows us a way to heal others especially those who are in need. He does not advocate the giving of the same amount to everyone but underscores the need to understand the depth of need and that each should be given according to their needs.
Tying the three readings together, we learn of God’s boundless mercy and how we should keep the faith, strive never to be separated from him, and share in our time of abundance.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Do you have a personal experience of faith and healing? 2. What are social and political barriers to showing love and compassion? What are practical ways to help your local church and those in need?
Bibliography: Etz Hayim, Torah and Commentary (New York, 2001); Harrington, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Mark (Minnesota, 2002)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Minerva Generalao, Philippines, Bat Kol Alumna July 2014