Gospel & Reflection 30th June 2024

Gospel & Reflection for Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’
While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.


Friends, the late Henry Nouwen, was a Dutch Priest, writer, and theologian. As an author, he was a prolific spiritual writer, whose legacy of forty published books are still popular today. As a theologian, he taught in many of the world’s most renowned universities including Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. In one of his books, ‘The Genesee Diary’, Nouwen recounts how, pressed with the demands of teaching at Yale University, he was left so exhausted that he decided to take an extended sabbatical at the Genesee Trappist Monastery outside New York. His ‘schedule’ for this sabbatical would consist only of prayer – no teaching, no studying; nothing but prayer.
However, on his second day in the Monastery, a group of students from a nearby school, learning of his presence so close to them, approached him and requested that he might lead them on a few days retreat. Nouwen complained immediately to the Abbot saying: ‘I came here to get away from this kind of thing, so why should I spend my sabbatical time preparing talks for those students?’ ‘Prepare?’ the Abbot asked, ‘You’ve been a Christian for 40 years and a Priest for 20 and all that these students want is to be part of your life in God for just a little while’.
What the Abbot knew and what Nouwen, despite his vast knowledge and expertise had to learn, was that as disciples of Christ we are called to live in a constant state of preparation, so that when someone in need comes into our world, we are ready to reach out and help them. It cannot always be about our own agenda.
Jesus was a person with a very set agenda. His mission was to announce the Good News of salvation, to make visible the Kingdom of God, and to invite all people to know and experience God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. This He did with a sense of urgency, seriousness, and purpose. But when He was called to depart from that agenda, as often He was, He allowed Himself the flexibility to give His attention towards the needs of others even as it diverted Him from His charted course. He willingly gave a part of His life in God to others, if even for a little while.
We have a perfect example of this in our Gospel today. We are told that a large crowd is gathered around Him; at such times Jesus always took the opportunity to teach. But His plan of teaching is put on hold as Jairus pleads for help. En route to Jairus’ home to help, yet another person desperate for help approaches Jesus. Jesus then gives of His time to the nameless woman and heals her, even as the crowd press round and as Jairus without doubt presses Him on. Resuming His schedule and despite the news that Jairus’s daughter has died, Jesus urges Jairus to let his faith supplant his fear and raises the girl to life.
In His willingness to set the needs of others before His own, Jesus remains an example for all believers. Had He insisted on keeping to His own agenda, the lives of many people would have been quite different. However, Jesus knew that in healing the devastated woman of faith and raising Jairus’s daughter, He was preaching a powerful and persuasive Gospel for all to hear, see and follow.
Friends, with a little time and flexibility, every one of us are capable of healing. We can’t cure but we can care, and caring is a healing thing. With a little care we can ease a troubled mind. With a little of our time we can ease the loneliness of other. With a little sympathy we can soothe a broken or lost heart. Our presence can be more powerful than anything. It’s just about being willing to give a little of our life with God to another. Jesus knew the power of this more than anyone.
As a community of His disciples, may we follow His generous example.
Fr. Richard