13B – 30 June 2024


Message by: Fr Richard M Healey

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In this episode, I reflect on the powerful stories of healing from the Gospel of Mark 5. I share my personal experiences from a challenging week, including medical appointments and a skin cancer removal, to connect with the struggles many face today. We delve into the story of the woman healed by touching Jesus’ garment and the subsequent healing of Jairus’ daughter. These narratives highlight themes of perseverance, faith, and restoration. I encourage us all to be mindful of those feeling isolated or excluded, and to embody Jesus’ love and healing within our community.

(00:00:00) –  I have to be honest with you, I’ve had a bit of a bloody week. I had a whole series of medical appointments this week, and on Wednesday I had to go in to have a BCC, a skin cancer cut off from the centre of my chest. And the next day when I woke up and examined the wound and realised that the dressing was all covered in blood and I was like, I don’t think that should be the way that it is. And so I had to kind of put covering on because I had mass to get to before I could get back to the the medical practice and got there and the dressing was all changed and that was all kind of sorted. The next day I had to visit a parishioner. I chucked my house keys on the the passenger seat and of course went around the corner and they fell off down the side. That’s fine, because they regularly do that. But when I went to retrieve them, they hadn’t just fallen under the seat. But there’s a panel under the seat and they’d fallen under that.

(00:01:02) –  And so I was putting my left hand in after I’d pushed the seat forward to try and get the keys back out and didn’t manage to get the keys out, but only managed to cut my hand open in trying to get them out. But then I was in a dilemma because I was visiting a parishioner and my hand was kind of bleeding profusely, and I’m like, well, I’ve got to go in. And I was like, hi, but could I get some first aid before I wait? I don’t want to put blood all over your carpet. That’s not a nice thing to kind of do to, to someone. And that sense of of blood still this kind of social faux pas, that whole sense that you don’t want to bleed on someone that’s not seen as, you know, polite kind of company, that we still have that sense, even though we have, you know, a much clearer sense of of what blood is and how diseases are transmitted. You know, whenever there is a blood spill, it’s still kind of an emergency situation.

(00:02:00) –  And, you know, especially in a medical environment, you know, everything kind of goes into lockdown until you’re able to clear up and clean up the blood spill. So we get a sense of why this woman in the gospel was such a problem. I mean, she’s considered to be ritually impure, that she can’t be part of the life of Israel. She can’t be part of any of the worship ceremonies. You certainly can’t go anywhere near the temple because she was considered to be impure, because she was bleeding constantly. So no matter how much she was wounded physically by this, that whole sense of the spiritual wounding, by being isolated and being unable to be part of that community, part of a relationship, she wouldn’t have been able to conceive. She would have been considered improper and impure to be able to enter into a marriage. So all of these ways that this woman are named in the gospel, she, like the daughter of Jairus, are only named and known by their condition and by their relations, not by themselves.

(00:03:21) –  As she goes through life, you know, she’s done. We were told she’s done everything she can. She’s not passive. She’s really active, seeking out medical assistance, trying to do the best that you can to have this condition treated. And in fact, we’re told this is continuing to get worse. And we know that scenario in our own lives. We’ve had that sense of those times and those moments when we’ve tried to fix something, we’ve tried to make something better, and all that we’ve seen to have achieved through this whole process is to make it all worse. So the desperation that she has deep within her is so palpable, so evident as she presses through the crowd. She shouldn’t have been there because anyone that she touched would have been made unclean. That was the reality of life within Judaism at the time. There was this very clear demarcation, and it was partly just that whole sense of of needing to be able to establish those as rules and rituals in order to keep the sense of purity, because that was such a crucial idea to be able to be pure.

(00:04:36) –  I mean, we still have that that sense within our church at the moment. You know, so many people still, you know, think, oh, I’ve got to go to confession before I’m able to be clean again, to be able to be clean, to receive the Eucharist and ideas like that, that we don’t really get within the New Testament scriptures. But this woman risks that, all of that. Because she’d heard about Jesus. So she pushed through the crowd in order to touch him. She knew that that would be enough. She knew that she wouldn’t be able. Well, she feared perhaps, that she wouldn’t be able to get a meeting, to get a moment of encounter. She couldn’t possibly ask Jesus to reach out and touch her, because that would have made him impure, unclean. And so she, by a little bit of deceit, perhaps a little bit covert in her procedure, but she pushes through the crowd in order just to touch the hem of his garment. Maybe she thought that wouldn’t have made him ritually impure.

(00:05:45) –  Maybe that, she thought, was socially acceptable just to touch the hem of his garment. You know, so I was pondering upon this during the week and just, you know, thinking about the way life was then and its dirt streets, dirt roads, everything is muddy. The animals would have been moving freely through the cities and everywhere that you went. As we experience when there is all of that around when you’re walking through and you’ve got long flowing, vestments or garments or what you’re wearing, of course it’s, you know, it’s scraping the ground, it’s rubbing against other surfaces. So the clothing of Jesus wouldn’t have been pristine and clean and bright and fresh. It would have been dirty. It would have been a bit frayed. It would have been a bit on the smelly kind of side. And yet this woman, knowing that just to touch the hem of the garment would be enough for her. And so when she does, there’s that instant change.

(00:06:48) –  She knows that this affliction that had caused her such heartache and such separation for this 12 year period, perhaps since she entered into her own experience of girlhood, of moving into to womanhood. You know, when the first moment of puberty, when she had the period for the first time, perhaps she’d been bleeding ever since then and she hadn’t been able to to enter into a relationship and having that whole sense of of being isolated. But as soon as she touches just the cloth of Jesus, it’s enough. And she’s cured. She’s made well once again, instantly sensing the power has gone out of him, he stops. Who touched me? And the disciples are right, like master, come on. Everyone is pushing in and he’s pressing in against you. How can you say who touched me when there were so many people who are crowded around you, pushing you, touching you? Of course there are people touching you. You’re not going to get any personal space in a situation like this. But he keeps looking because he wants to be able to engage with this person who’s just received this precious gift, that he’s sensed, this power that is left him.

(00:08:05) –  And so as he sees her and she comes forward this beautiful moment, even though she doesn’t have a name, Jesus at least gives her a title daughter. Your faith has saved you. She’s brought back into relationship with God. She’s brought back into the family of God’s people. She’s nameless. She’s isolated. She’s marginalised. But Jesus restores her and brings her back into the family of God. And she becomes the daughter that we then encounter in the next part of this story that Mark has so beautifully crafted together. As they continue along the way to the House of Jairus and they are told, look, the daughter is dead now, there’s no point bringing the master any further, because to touch a dead body was another way that you became ritually impure. So they knew that Jesus, being a rabbi, would certainly not go to fear to be made ritually impure by contact with a dead body. But it doesn’t bother Jesus. He keeps on going, keeps pressing through. And even though the crowd of mourners have already assembled, even those who come and weep and wail in order to assist that whole process of the ritual mourning and the grieving process, that is a natural part of our lives.

(00:09:35) –  But they’re there as part of that whole experience. And even through this crowd of onlookers, he is so insistent, so clear in what his purpose is to get to the girl and to bring her to a place of restoration. So just for the parents, and this the three inside is that are always part of those key moments in the life of Jesus. This. He goes in and Mark reminds us of the Aramaic that Jesus spoke. Talitha come, little girl. I say to you, arise. It’s the same word that we will hear later in the gospel for the resurrection. The same power that brings Jesus back from the dead is also present in this little girl of 12. This daughter, who is now being restored and renewed and finds her place. No matter where we are in life’s journey, no matter what we’ve experienced, in the ways we’ve felt excluded or isolated or unworthy, there’s always that room in the kingdom of God to touch the hem of the garment. There’s always that capacity to be open to the power of God, to bring us to that place of new life, a restoration of healing.

(00:10:55) –  Even if we feel ourselves as unnamed and unknown. The God is there, inviting us and calling us into that freedom and into that life. Let’s indeed really be mindful of those members of our family that might seem to be isolated. They might seem to have wandered away to no longer be part of the family of God. Maybe there was something that happened that that made them feel shamed, or that made them feel not welcome anymore, but just to know that even just touching the hem of the garment that we represent, perhaps the hem of that garment to so many people in our lives, and being able to be there for other people to be a sign of the visible presence of God within our world, to be for them a chance just to be able to reach out and be connected once again to the wonder of God’s love. We are that sign. We are that presence. We can be that model of the God who is longing to restore, longing to bring to new life, longing to bring us to freedom, to remove anything that makes us or makes us feel ritually impure, makes us feel separated from his mercy.

(00:12:10) –  That God’s love will reach to us, encounter us, and call us into that life and that freedom, so that we can indeed be raised to new life with God once again.

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