Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Our gospel this morning takes us right into the heart of two stories about people in desperate need of healing.
I must confess that miracle stories like these can sometimes be challenging for the faithful because we know that even our most ardent prayers don’t always produce the answers we have in mind. I am personally aware of miraculous, unexplainable incidences of healing and deliverance and yet, I know that there are times when we are left to wonder why our prayers seem unanswered.
We question our faith or that of those we care about. Was there not enough of it? Is God punishing me, her, or him? Are they/we/I getting our “just” reward? How can these things be? There is no rhyme or reason to some illnesses and circumstances that leave us broken and bereft of joy and the “happy” life. And we wonder; we want answers, don’t we? We want to make some sense of it all, some logical reasoning.
These two stories are indelibly linked: a 12 year old daughter of a powerful and important religious leader named Jairus; privileged and prestigious whose healing is interrupted by a no-named woman, alone and poor, the “least among the least.” You can see the contrast, can’t you? We ask ourselves what might that juxtaposition look like in our world today, our country? Their lives, their journeys are on opposite spectrums and yet, they share the most basic commonality; both are desperate; neither has the ability nor the capacity to solve their own problems. Each is in need of help.
Jairus throws himself down at Jesus’ feet begging Jesus repeatedly, “My little girl is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” What father wouldn’t? Those of us, who are parents or have ever had a sick child or grandchild, understand this. We know what it is like to love someone more than life itself.
A sick child in mind, body, and spirit renders feelings of helplessness and vulnerability in a way that nothing else can. Come. Touch. Heal.
And Jesus is on his way. The crowd is large. People are pressing on every side and there is a woman among them who thinks to herself, “If I can just touch the fringes of his garment I can be made well.”
In stark contrast to Jairus, she is unnamed. There is no mention of a husband, which in those days would have given her a certain kind of credibility. And she is broke, having spent all her money trying to get well. She is a poor woman, alone and sick – physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically. Oh my goodness. In those days it couldn’t get more vulnerable than that unless you were a little, orphan child – poor, alone, separated, and sick.
Mark tells us that she had heard about Jesus and immediately upon touching his clothing she was healed of her hemorrhaging after 12 long years. “Who touched me,” Jesus asks “for something has come out of me.”
I wonder about her daring. How can she possibly trust the inner voice within herself when there is nothing that seems to give her any agency about her life at all? That voice way down that calls to her; tells her she is somebody worthy, despite all odds.
I wonder about that; if that’s where faith really lies. Faith that pushes us out and forward; causes us to press our way, press our humanity against all odds. Compels us to take action for our own good and for the good of others.
We need that kind of faith, don’t we? That’s all we can count on at the end of the day – our faith in a loving God we are seeking to know.
And then Jesus affirms her wildest imagining: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed.”
What a magnificent statement. Daughter. My Child; child of God, your faith has done for you what money, power or prestige cannot do. Your faith has transcended time, place and circumstance. Your faith has opened up new possibilities; a new existence.
I think healing begins on the inside. It begins with God and an awareness of God’s desire for us. Even when the body does not get better, the mind and spirit can endure. This does not negate medicine, nor science; if anything, it affirms God’s ability to work through it.
These persons: Jairus, the powerful leader, and the poor unnamed woman come to Jesus with the same kind of desperation. Both express the same fear and sense of helplessness, but also a measure of faith in who (s)he is; the same hope and the same desire to be made whole; to touch and to be touched. And both are healed; both are made well.
Their lives are delicately interwoven; stories inseparable. The haves and the have nots. The rich and the poor; the well-established and those most vulnerable – our lives are linked together just as our lives are interwoven with one another and the hurting, desperate people of our world.
What if in the midst of the brokenness, anguish, pain and fear, we begin to see Jesus for who Jesus is once and for all? We begin to push through the crowd and the crowdedness of life in order to draw closer to the source of healing for our world; God’s way will heal our country, our families, ourselves.
We come to this place not as spectators but as a seeker looking to be whole, transformed, inspired, and renewed.
Have you been touched, my brothers and sisters? Touched by healing love? The kind of love that shows up in everyday, small places and everyday things.
Here’s what I know: wherever love is, there is healing. Wherever compassion and unity dwells – justice, peace, openness, and understanding – there is the possibility for completeness. I have seen it and I know it’s true.
And here is another thing I want to say to you today: guard your health. Guard it with great passion – your mind and spirit as well as your body. It’s summer time; slow down. Rest. Spend some time with yourself; quality time with God Not a quick drive-by, but quality time. Pay attention to what your body is saying to you; your spirit. If it’s not right, press yourself to work on it. What will it take? Start with you. And God. So often, we try to help others but we are not willing to help ourselves.
Take time for your family and friends. The world won’t spin off its axis if you stop being so busy all the time; the world will survive us all.
Don’t cancel any more doctor’s appointments; don’t reschedule. GO. Turn off the television, shut down the computer, get off Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you were in the hospital, how many of those “friends” would take half an hour to come by to say hello or bring you a cup of tea.
Cherish those you love – cherish them as if this is your last summer together; every moment. You’ll be better for it and they will too. Everybody will. I promise you.
Thanks be to God.