• Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

“Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 47(46):2 — “All peoples, clap your hands. Cry to God with shouts of joy!”

First Reading: Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24 — “By the envy of the devil, death entered the world.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13 — “I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me.”

Second Reading: 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15 — “Your abundance should supply the needs of the poor.”

Alleluia: 2 Tm 1:10 — Alleluia, alleluia. “Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mk 5:21-43 — “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 103(102):1 — “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all within me, His Holy Name.”

In January, 2009, the “Miracle on the Hudson” dominated news from every angle for months. You probably remember that Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his U.S. Airways flight in the Hudson River. All 155 passengers and crew members lived to tell about it. This was truly a phenomenal feat.

What Jesus did in today’s Gospel was much more phenomenal. Sullenberger and his crew preserved the lives of those flying with them. Jesus brought back to life two females, one literally and one figuratively in today’s Gospel. People on Flight 1549 didn’t get to pick their pilot. Lucky for them, they had one of the best. The females in today’s Gospel were brought back to life because of choice and because of faith. The young girl’s father chose to seek Jesus out to help his daughter. He chose to overcome his fear. The woman with the hemorrhage sought Jesus for the purpose of being cured. She overcame her fear and she witnessed to her faith. How did they know to seek Jesus?

As with most people who do phenomenal things, news travels fast. Obviously Jesus’ reputation was being spread far and wide. This gave Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage the courage to approach Jesus. Both had to overcome their fear and to trust in the power of Jesus. They had to have faith in Jesus.

Jairus as a synagogue official was an unlikely candidate for asking Jesus’ help. He would have been in charge in some way of all things orthodox. For him to fall at the feet of Jesus and to beg His help in healing his daughter was an extraordinary thing. A girl child would have very little value in the society of the day. William Barclay, a Scripture scholar, in his book, The Gospel of Mark says of Jairus: “His prejudices were forgotten … His dignity was forgotten … His pride was forgotten … we can say of this man his friends were forgotten.” Jairus was most likely going against all the conventional wisdom and propriety of the day. For that matter, so was Jesus in even ministering to a dead female. She would have been considered unclean because of being dead … she was a corpse.

The woman with the hemorrhage had to overcome a lot to approach Jesus too. Notice that in the Gospel she was given no name, just like the dead daughter of Jairus. According to Scripture scholars, in keeping with the custom of the day, a female “only acquires a name of her own when she has a son. Until then, she is identified as related to some other man – first her father and later her husband.” This woman had a hemorrhage for 12 years which made her ritually unclean, ostracized, and isolated. No wonder this woman approaches Jesus secretly and from behind. What courage it must have taken to touch Jesus’ garment and then to confess it when Jesus asked who touched Him. Equally significant is the courage it must have taken Jesus to address her directly and admit He had been touched by this unclean woman.

Life and faith are integrally tied together in both healings. Faith brought healing to both females. It gave them back life that they had lost.

Jesus in the Gospel is a testimony to the reminder in our first reading from Wisdom. We are instructed, “God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living. For He fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome ...” Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage seem to know this about God and that Jesus had the power to bring both women to wholesomeness.

What begs to be healed in your life? What fears must you set aside to approach Jesus with your needs? Maybe it is a fear that Jesus would not see you worthy of a healing. Perhaps it is a fear that your life would change if you were healed, and you are afraid of the unknown, the uncertain. Acting in faith demands taking risks. Can you trust Jesus enough to ask for what you need in faith?

Coming to Mass each week and standing before the Altar ... standing before the Eucharistic table takes faith. So, as you approach the altar today, ask yourselves this: what is it you want to ask of Jesus in faith, knowing that He has the power to grant it?

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