Power over sickness and death

Al Cariño
Reproduced with Permission

Jesus has just returned from Samaria to Galilee, a journey from Gentile to Jewish territory. While still on the shore, a large crowd gathered around Him. Then a man named Jairus came to Jesus to ask for a favor. He was a synagogue official and was therefore held in high esteem by the people. He had heard of the miracles Jesus performed in Samaria and felt that only Jesus could save his dying daughter. Thus he did not hesitate to fall at Jesus's feet despite his high position and the possible derision of his fellow religious leaders who were already on a collision course with Jesus. He pleaded earnestly saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may be made well and live."

Without saying a word, Jesus set out with Jairus. The crowd followed them and pressed upon Him. Among them was a woman afflicted with hemorrhage for 12 years who was impoverished by what she paid the doctors without being cured. She had heard about Jesus and believed that He could cure her. Unlike Jairus who believed that Jesus could cure his daughter by imposing His hands, for the woman just touching His garments was enough to be cured. And she was!

On His part, Jesus was aware that power had gone out from him. So He turned around to the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" His question brought the woman forward. Frightened, she fell at the feet of Jesus and told Him everything. Jesus' purpose was not to humiliate but to commend her for her faith. Jesus even affectionately called her "daughter" when He talked with her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you."

Then messengers from Jairus' house arrived with the news that the child had died. On hearing this bad news, Jesus told Jairus, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." As they entered the house, they were greeted by the wails of the mourners. When Jesus told them that the girl was not dead but only asleep, they mocked Him. As He had been mocked during His passion for claiming He was King.

Jesus then entered the girl's room with only her parents and the three apostles -- Peter, James and John -- to give them another glimpse of His true nature. Jesus then held the girl's hand and said, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" She immediately rose from her bed of death. To remove any doubt about her cure, Jesus told them to give her food. How amply rewarded was Jairus' faith!

The themes of salvation and faith are intertwined in the two inter-related miracles. Jairus believed that at Jesus' touch his daughter would be "made well" and the woman was convinced that touching the garments of Jesus would "make her well." All they had to do was to obey Jesus' admonition: "Do not be afraid; just have faith." What the evangelist Mark wants to show is that salvation stands in close relation to faith.

Mark also uses words with special meanings. When the girl's father told Jesus to impose His hands on the girl that "she may be made well and live," for Mark "made well" means "to be saved" and "to live" means "to have eternal life." Thus "she may be made well and live" means "she may be saved and have eternal life." And when Jesus said to the sick woman, "Daughter, your faith has saved you" what in effect He was saying according to Mark was: "Your faith has brought you salvation." Finally, by using the word "arise" in command of Jesus for the girl to rise up, Mark used the same word of Jesus' resurrection -- to indicate our own resurrection from the dead.

As shown in the interpersonal relationship of Jesus with the afflicted woman and Jairus, Jesus saves individual persons, not crowds. We can also enter into a personal relationship with Jesus if our prayers are characterized by a face-to-face conversation with Him - -as Jesus did in His prayers to His Father. We should do the same when we receive the Sacraments. For truly, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is Jesus who forgives us; in the Holy Eucharist, it is Jesus Himself whom we receive; etc. Acting thus will help us grow in our personal love relationship with Jesus. And in all these, we must have faith.