Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Like flies at a garden party, sickness and death are never welcome. But nevertheless, they hover over our lives on earth and often descend just when it is most inconvenient. When they hurt the most, interrupting our plans and exposing our vulnerability. Gospel stories like these tell us that Jesus knew all about such, but that He had that wondrous divine ability to take away their sting.

Case in point are the two stories told us by Mark today that exemplify his trademark “sandwich” device to make his point. Interesting enough, the two stories have several points in common: female sufferers, the number 12, and vocabulary (“faith,”, “fear,” “sane,” “daughter,” etc.) Yet the style used points to a separate origin.

The story of Jairus’ daughter is told in short sentences in the so-called historical present tense. The story of the woman with the flow of blood is told in longer sentences and in the imperfect tense.

What is more important for us is to note the faith of both Jairus and the sick woman and the reaction to both of Jesus. First Jairus. He was a Jewish official, privy to all the gossip about Jesus and the opinions of fellow Jews of rank. Yet here he is, put in the position of a beggar for Jesus’ help for his sick little daughter. He was a desperate father, a figure we can identify with. He was willing to reach out to anyone who could help him.

Then we have the woman, likely alone in the world with no husband to help her, and not able to get sufficient help from any doctors for 12 years. So, she too reaches out to the one person she knew could help her.

In the case of Jesus, He appreciates the faith behind the pleas of both persons and responds. Jesus is the calm in the midst of chaos and is in full control of both situations and of the divine power that He bears. How essential it is to have someone calm and in control at times like these if we are to get a handle on things. What does Jesus say to Jairus? Something that we all should remember: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

Jesus’ words bring me right back to the homily Pope St. John Paul II gave at his inaugural Mass when he too proclaimed: “Do not be afraid!” The circumstances were different from these two scenes 2,000 years ago. But the world situation in 1978 was much like it is in 2024, one of confusion and sickness of spirit. So, we need to hear Jesus say it loud and clear once again: “Do not be afraid; just have faith!”

What’s your “faith quotient”? What’s mine? A question we need to ask and answer. Not just when we are sick or facing death, but right here and right now.

Here are two thoughts about faith that I found:

  1. “The greatest act of faith takes place when a person finally decides that he or she is not God.”
  2. “Not as many people have lost faith in America as you might think. An awful lot of them sign up for a 30-year mortgage.”

God love you and keep the Faith!

Rev. Peterson’s Reading & Gospel Summary

Reading I: Wisdom 1: 13-15; 2:23-24

“God did not make death.” So, the writer insists. Rather was it the devil’s envy and consequent sin that brought death into the world.

Reading II: 2 Corinthians 8: 7, 9, 13-15

Our Lord Jesus made Himself poor that we might become rich. Not rich by worldly measure but in the measure of eternal life.

The Gospel: Mark 5: 21-43, or 5:21-24, 33b-43

Here Mark uses his trademark “sandwich” device to tell two stories of healing, both of which share components.