13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 27, 2021
Today’s gospel passage from Saint Mark contains a typical example of how the evangelist constructed his gospel. Quite often, as in today’s gospel, in the midst of sharing an incident from the life of Jesus, Mark sandwiches in another story. … First, we hear about the synagogue official, Jairus. His daughter is very sick – to the point of death – and the official puts aside his pride and becomes a “beggar” for his daughter before Jesus. The thought of losing his daughter becomes so great a cross to bear for the man that he risks it all in order for her to be healed. … And right in the midst of this story, Mark tells us of a chronically ill woman, who had been sick for twelve years and who literally fights the crowds that surround Jesus to touch his clothes in order to be healed.
Both stories are powerful stories of faith and healing. Both Jairus and the woman place their hope in the love of God found in Jesus. God’s mercy and love flow into their lives – and a child is restored to life – and a woman is cured.
In many respects, the outcome of these encounters with Jesus is enough for us who look to God to sustain us in our journeys of life. Yet, as is always the case, the scriptures are replete with far more lessons for faith-filled living than we might ever imagine. … Indeed, probably the most compelling lesson from today’s gospel, apart from the obvious ones, is one that relates quite significantly to most of our lives. Both Jairus and the woman were confronted with crosses – crosses that not only created pain and suffering – but crosses that ultimately shaped their lives.
Let’s look at this lesson for just a moment, more from the perspective of the woman who had been sick for twelve years. .. She suffered for a long time, didn’t she? While we don’t know what consequences her illness caused in her life, we can safely conclude that they must have been many and significant. … Maybe she couldn’t work and care for her family as she may have needed to do. … Perhaps her illness led to a disruption of some of her relationships – with her husband, her children or friends. … It’s not at all unlikely that she was physically diminished by this chronic problem – exhausted, weak and unable to do ordinary tasks of life. … And emotionally – spiritually – it’s also likely that such a lengthy illness or disability at times cause her to question her faith – get angry with God – and even, at times, want to give up.
I would think that in those twelve years, if she was a normal, average person, she probably engaged God often, wavering in that relationship – between love and hate, hope and despair, anger and frustration, peace and anxiety. … But for as angry or bitter as she likely had been, it’s pretty obvious from the story that she never gave up believing that somehow God was not only present in her life but walked with her, sustaining her as she carried her cross and journeyed through life.
You and I carry crosses as well, don’t we? And they cause the same emotions and reactions in us as they likely caused in the woman in today’s gospel story. … How have they shaped your life? … Are you simply angry with God or have you discovered a way forward?
One thing is clear. Just like Jairus and especially like the woman in the gospel – you are here today to touch Jesus and to allow his healing and merciful presence to fill your lives. … Maybe you want to tell him how hurt you are – how angry you feel – how tired you have become – because of the crosses that you carry. … But regardless of what you want to say or how you feel, it’s clear that you want to engage Jesus and touch him. That’s why you are here today and every Sunday. You’ve come to understand what some of us take a lifetime to learn: Faith doesn’t take away our crosses or assure us that we will never carry one. It gives us the courage to face them with hope and to move forward.
You know well that no one wants to carry a cross. Even Jesus himself asked that the cross pass him by the night before he died. But you’ve also come to understand and believe that crosses are never the end. The cross of Jesus gave way to life and resurrection. … And our crosses – when united to his – shape our lives, give us wisdom and grace to share with our world – and always lead to life and peace.