Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Lectionary 13), Year B

by Crossings



Mark 5: 21-43
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Lectionary 13), Year B
Analysis by Shaun O’Reilly

21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came, and when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and pleaded with him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41Taking her by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl stood up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this and told them to give her something to eat.

Gabriel Max – The Raising of the Daughter of Jairus –  From Wikimedia Commons

“The Christ gives until empty, gives all of himself. The Christ pays attention to our brokenness.”

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem):  It is too crowded!
It’s crowded. Jesus and the disciples are crowded – crowded with needs, and pleading, and pressing in. And our very lives feel so crowded. There are too many problems and too few solutions. War, and drought, and political fighting; real people suffer and die while churches or governments or compassionate people try to help, or attempt to find adequate help, or even just try to hold it together long enough to wade through the mess. We have death and decay all around us. And further, there’s so many of “us” who only manage to compound the death and decay. There are needs across the world, needs of the neighbors to our right and our left, young and old, almost too many to count. We wonder what true redemption can get done in chaos like this?

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem):  The Doctor doesn’t seem to notice
When Jesus asks who touches him, we snap back with the obvious: “you see the crowd! How can you even ask that?”

Does this guy not get it? Is God even paying attention? Why are we here having to remind God: there are crowds upon crowds! Maybe something should be done. Hey, Lord, what are you missing?

While he’s talking to the one woman, the little girl of the pleading synagogue leader dies. You know, let’s not even tell him now.  No sense in heaping guilt on how he’s leading this so poorly. We’ll keep the despair to ourselves (and it is our despair). We had to wake him up when there was the terrible storm on the sea, and now we’re managing this storm of need, again, like he doesn’t seem to notice.

We’ll keep saying, “You see the crowd!” as our hint that someone with the means to do something should do something.  Obviously, however, that doesn’t mean us.

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem):  I am crowded and alone
If God would but look at me, God would see needs here too. It’s crowded in here. I’ve gone this far to serve you, and sometimes you see others or sometimes you heal others, but not me. I’ve left so much to be here. I thought you saw me and called me, but I am forsaken while you notice everyone else. Everyone but me. Am I supposed to know who touched you, in this crowd? Lord, I don’t know! But I do know who has overlooked me, and it’s YOU.

I came with you because I thought I could trust you. I left everything. I am like the woman: I’ve “spent all that I have,” but what do I get? Jesus keeps promising peace to random people in the crowd, but he doesn’t want to give it to me. It’s just downright mean and evil to treat me this way. I am crowded and alone. Your silence is killing me.

From Canva

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution):  Persistent Love Pays Attention
But the Christ does pay attention. While crowds push in and when folks laugh because it’s too late to heal, Jesus is looking, Jesus is listening. “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

Crowds surround Jesus until they put him on the cross, and then they are gone. At the cross, Jesus cries out in need, in pleading, for the pain of life and death to stop. Christ is, indeed, the overlooked one. The Christ gives until empty, gives all of himself. The Christ pays attention to our brokenness, like a staring contest that costs him his life, but attentive to us. And he takes our silence of godforsakenness into himself in death.

We are unclean. We doubt. And we either run away or participate in his active crucifixion, and even then Jesus restores, forgiving us as we know not what we do.  Within the crowd, he does not deny a woman who has suffered many years.  And even stepping away from the crowd – all of whom he dearly loves – he seeks to enter deeply into our sleep of death, taking our hand in compassion, and waking us together with the whole beloved creation that all  may be alive with promise.

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution):  Persistent Love Wakes up Sleepers!
This Christ who wakes up the sleepers also wakes me up. At his cross he unstops my ears to hear him saying to me: “I do see you and hear you amidst the crowds of life, and nothing that is given to me falls away. This is godly love, and it is a crucified and risen life I live, and even should it go unnoticed, that doesn’t stop me from loving you. Wake up, sleepers, arise!” (cf. Ephesians 5:14; Isaiah 26:19)

In faith, we do rise, trusting our Lord.    And in seeing and hearing my God, and God’s word of welcome and forgiveness, I am released from my curved-in-on-view. I draw breath, and meaning, like waking up. Maybe I, too,  can see, and hear, and touch the crowds.   “Daughter/Son, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution):  Those Awake Persist!
And of course we do touch the crowds, in love. We are practitioners – the body – of this Great Physician. We are free to go and listen and look. We are transformed to pay holy attention, to raise the dead in word and sacrament and to make sure the newly awakened ones get something to eat! (v. 43)

We no longer fear the great crowds, or the noise of all our needs. We have seen and heard and touched the love that is big enough to hold them all. This hope overflows in us, and we now joyfully exclaim to one another: “You see the crowds?!”


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