Reflection on Mark 5.21-43

People came from Jairus’ house and said: Why trouble the teacher any further?

Today’s reading opens with the painting of a familiar scene: a great crowd gathered round him. Jesus’ reputation preceded him. Wherever he went the crowds gathered to hear his teaching and preaching, and to receive his healing touch. The power of his words and his ability to restore health to the otherwise incurably sick acted as a magnet for all who were in need. Today, yet again, a great crowd gathered round him. But, today, we see two very different interactions with Jesus.

Firstly, we hear of Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue. Jairus’ daughter was seriously ill: at the point of death. In desperation, Jairus approached Jesus, the last hope, to beg that he might lay his hands on her, so that she may be made well. In despair, one who might otherwise be expected to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Jesus’ critics, recognised the truth about Jesus, and came to him in faith.

Secondly, there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. Such an illness would have set her aside from the society in which she lived. In her desperation she also came to Jesus for healing, but her situation was different. Whether it was because of the nature of her illness or not, she knew that healing would be bestowed upon her if she could but touch his clothes.

The delay that followed the healing of the woman suffering from haemorrhages must have seemed interminable to Jairus. Then, when that ‘incident’ was resolved and Jesus moved towards his house the terrible news came. Jairus’ daughter had died, there was no longer any need to trouble the teacher. Jesus’ subsequent raising of Jairus’ daughter proved otherwise!

There are many times in our lives when we feel the desperation of Jairus and the woman with uncontrollable haemorrhages. There are many times when we feel the impatience of the desperate parent. There are many times, in our despair, when we decide not to bother Jesus. But … that is not the message of today’s reading. Jesus is always there to offer consolation, healing and hope … even when we decide there are none of these things to be had.

Today we are being reminded to remain constant in our prayers. We are being urged to never presume that Jesus is ‘too busy’ or too ‘preoccupied’ with other matters. Today we are being called to lay everything before Jesus and to trust in him … no matter how hopeless we may feel, there is the unswerving promise of Jesus’ constant presence at all times. Let us pray for the faith to trust in that promise.