The faith of outsiders


This week’s Gospel story presents us with yet another picture of faith in action.   In the stories Mark tells, so often it’s not the insiders, the disciples, who demonstrate faith, it’s outsiders who come to Jesus. So often in Mark’s telling of the Gospel story, the disciples, the insiders miss the point, don’t get it, or simply fail to trust in who Jesus is, despite repeated examples of his power and love.  Here today we have two desperate people, outsiders, who reach out to Jesus for help.

Jesus is approached first by Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, and a person of status and wealth, who simply falls to his knees when Jesus comes to his town, begging him to come and heal his beloved daughter who is dying.  As a synagogue leader he would have been part of the group opposed to Jesus and his teaching, but he is desperate, and at the end of all other possibilities, so he simply comes to Jesus and begs him to help.

The crowd surrounding Jesus presses on towards the house.  As always, the crowd simply wanted to see a wonderworker in action, and a miracle.  In the middle of this crowd is a desperate woman, who has a bleeding condition that would have caused her intense physical suffering, but also spiritual suffering, as she was continually unclean, banished from her religious life, and from being with others.  She is sick and tired of being sick and tired. She had spent all her money searching for a cure.   Hidden by the crowd, hoping for anonymity she simply reaches out and touches the edge of Jesus’ robe.  She has enough faith to hope that just simply touching Jesus could heal her.  Jesus stops in his tracks to acknowledge her, to praise her for her faith and to offer her comfort and reassurance.  And she, an outsider, is healed at that very moment.

This delay means that Jairus’ daughter dies.  Jesus offers the mourning crowd a glimmer of hope that she can be raised, but it meets with laughter and mockery.  The child is dead!  There is a tradition in Scripture of people laughing when God comes to them. Sarah laughed when she was told she would miraculously have a son.   But in Jesus we see the God of the impossible in action.  He speaks very tenderly to the little girl, and she is healed.

Both Jairus and the sick woman are outsiders who come to Jesus in desperation.  They are not part of the in-crowd, they are not disciples, but they know that with this Jesus there is healing, and they come in faith and hope.  At our monthly Healing Mass here at All Saints, we mostly meet outsiders, who come because they want the healing Christ offers, with little interest from insiders.  How does this fit with this week’s Gospel story, and are we as insiders, too cynical or complacent to come to Jesus for healing?

In peace, Mother Lynda