Mark 5: 31-42
When we hear these healing stories, which we become accustomed to, we must keep in mind that there is the obvious and the not-so-obvious healings that are taking place. This is a very busy and somewhat chaotic gospel of Jairus and his daughter and sandwiched in between the story of the women that has hemorrhaged for twelve years. This is not to undermine the physical healings that take place or are needed in our own lives. Many people suffer greatly with physical ailments that keep them from functioning fully in life, but the not-so-obvious healing is also that way in our lives at times, growing beneath the surface in our hearts and souls, needing spiritual healing in our lives.
Jairus is one such person in today’s gospel. He’s at the point of desperation as he gets word that his daughter had died, or so it seems. But Jairus is a synagogue official, as Mark tells us, but because of this vulnerable time in his life isn’t going to allow that to stop him from stepping forward to approach Jesus. Now maybe there was some sense of feeling entitled knowing his status, but regardless, imagine how this would be perceived by the the other officials and the scribes and pharisees who are already plotting Jesus’ death. He comes to Jesus with all this baggage, in a moment of desperation, seeking the healing of his daughter who may or may not be dead! Now we don’t know what happens to him beyond this story. All we can do is put ourselves in his place, that now finding this place of authenticity, how can he ever return to what was. Think of it this way, as we sung in the psalm today, Jairus, like me and you, so often need to be rescued from ourselves. When he steps forward from the crowd that gathers and is pushing in on Jesus, Jairus steps out of the role he played, rescued from the pretenses, the judgments, and the expectations of this synagogue official and comes to Jesus in total abandonment, as he is before the Lord and is healed. How can he ever go back? Why would he want to at that point?
The woman who hemorrhaged for twelve years also goes beyond the physical healing, although that is what catapults this encounter. Here’s a woman that has had to live in isolation on the fringes of society throughout these twelve years. Imagine how any of us would feel in that situation, to be driven out of the relational part of our lives? Yet, despite all that had been imposed on her by these same authorities, she too is going to step forward, like Jairus, in her own desperation, to get what she needs the most. Any pretense, judgment, or expectation that had been placed upon her or she has taken on herself, she is rescued from, in her most authentic self before the Lord and is healed. However, through that very act of healing she makes him unclean, taking on her burden, in order that she may go free and goes from being woman to daughter. Relationship is established. Like her, though, we often have to get to that point of desperation in our lives before we can let go and be rescued from ourselves in order to be my most authentic self before the Lord. When I heal, those who are primed become healed. Despite the crowds again pressing in and trying to prevent her from approaching the Lord, her most authentic self breaks through the crowd of pretense and judgment to stand before the Lord.
In the end, the young girls healing seems to be secondary to the rest. Again, it’s not to undermine the physical healings that people pray for and that we all seek out; there is great suffering in that form that needs to be healed by the Lord. However, even that can become an obstacle to the spiritual healing that needs to take place. We begin to identify with our suffering and our hurt, thinking that’s who we are. I am my cancer. I am my addiction. Whatever the case may be; that too needs spiritual healing that goes beyond the physicality of what hurts. The not-so-obvious of our own lives is easy to hide and often needs to reach that same point of desperation before we can finally surrender and we may be rescued from ourselves. It’s a tough thing that we hold onto, ourselves, or the selves that we think we are, for good or for ill. When we allow our authentic selves to stand before the Lord there is movement that takes place and our primary identity shifts from our hurt, our pretenses and judgments, our roles, to our identity in Christ. What is it we need to be rescued from in our lives? What are we holding onto that we know will only be given up if, like the death of his daughter, we are clinging to an unthinkable cliff, hanging onto dear life? When we let go and allow ourselves to be rescued from this hold, we not only step forward healed but we also step forward as the person we were created to be in order to live life fulfilled.