GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
Today is the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time for year B, and this year the church continues the journey through the Gospel of Mark in order by focusing on a very important healing of Jesus, and that's the healing — it’s kind of a double healing — of the woman with a hemorrhage and the raising of Ja’irus’ daughter. So these can both be found in Mark 5, so we’re going to look at that reading for the gospel today with the focus on the theme of Jesus the healer, and look at how he comes to save us and deliver us not just from suffering, but also from death itself. Before we actually read the gospel I just want to make one important literary observation. You’ll notice that what Mark is giving us here is a story inside another story. So he begins with the raising of Ja’irus’ daughter, he then switches to the woman with a hemorrhage, and than he finishes with the account of what actually happened to the daughter of Ja’irus. Scholars have come up with the somewhat infelicitous expression, the “Markan Sandwich,” because he's sandwiching one story between two others, or inserting one story into the middle of another frame, and it's just something to keep an eye on; it’s something that’s kind of distinctive of Mark's gospel. And, in this case, it is an interesting juxtaposition, an interesting insertion, because in both cases the suffering that’s involved is linked to the number 12. So as we’re going to see, the little girl is 12 years old and the woman who has had the hemorrhage has had it for 12 years, and that might be one of the reasons Mark juxtaposes these two — in addition to the fact that they happen at the same time.
One miracle happens on the way to the performance of another miracle. So just with that literary observation of the Markan Sandwich in mind, let's read the gospel for today:
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja'irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and besought him, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live."
And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well." And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?'" And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Tal'itha cu'mi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Wow, what a dramatic story. This is a great example of how although Mark's gospel has fewer stories in it, it has fewer accounts of miracles done by Jesus than Matthew or Luke, they’re longer gospels, right. When Mark gives you an account of a miracle of Jesus he frequently gives the most detail. So he has fewer episodes but longer and more detailed accounts of the miracles, and we see that here with the two-fold miracle of the raising of Ja’irus’ daughter and the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage. If you compare these accounts to Matthew and Luke’s, theirs are shorter, they’re more brief, they’re less detailed, Mark has a lot more detail. So let's go through them together because there is a lot going on in these two episodes...
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
You might recall in the letter to the Galatians — or you might not recall, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. In the letter to the Galatians, Paul says that he went to Jerusalem, and he spoke with Peter and James and John, that they gave him the right hand of fellowship. And they basically gave him a rubber stamp, full approval, to go and evangelize the Gentiles. But, he says, with the proviso that:
...only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do. (Galatians 2:10)
In other words, the apostle in Jerusalem told Paul, “Go out to the nations, bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, but remember the poor of the Church here in Jerusalem.” So Paul had, as part of his mission as an apostle to the Gentiles, not just the evangelistic mission of converting them. He also had a financial mission, which was to appeal to their generosity to collect money from them and then to ultimately bring it back to the Church at Jerusalem and dispense it as alms for the poor there in Jerusalem.
So we often don’t think of Paul as a philanthropist or a humanitarian raising money, but that’s part of what his mission was. And so when he writes 2 Corinthians, a large part of this letter (especially the second half of the letter) is all about the collection for the Church in Jerusalem. So if you want an example of this ...
not from 1 Corinthians but from Romans chapter 15, even in that letter Paul describes this collection as part of his mission. For example, listen to what he says in Romans 15:25. He says:
At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem with aid for the saints.
That means the Christians in Jerusalem.
For Macedo′nia and Acha′ia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they were pleased to do it, and indeed they are in debt to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. (Romans 15:25-27)
So notice what Paul is saying in Romans is, “When I come to Rome, I will already have carried out this mission of going to Macedonia and Achaia, Greece (which is where Corinth is located, in Greece) to collect money for the poor in Jerusalem. Because if the Gentiles have shared in the spiritual blessing of the Jews by becoming members of the new covenant, then they too ought to share their material blessings with the poor and the Church in Jerusalem.” So it’s a kind of give and take, a mutual exchange of goods. So it gives us a window into the fact that the Church in Jerusalem, Jewish Christians were poor, whereas the Gentile Christians in Macedonia and Corinth appear to have been more well off.
So, in context then, Paul — in 2 Corinthians 8, to go back to the reading for today — is trying to … basically, he’s doing the annual bishop’s appeal. Every bishop and every priest will know that once a year, the bishop of the diocese will often write a letter giving (appealing), making an appeal to the members of the diocese to be financially generous in order to support the missionary work of the diocese — often acts of charity for the poor, but other missionary efforts for the Church as well. Every bishop loves making the bishop’s appeal, writing that kind of letter. Every priest loves pronouncing it, and every layperson loves to hear it, right?
It can be an awkward time, because it’s a difficult thing for a spiritual entity like the Church to ask for material support through money. And part of what’s happening in 2 Corinthians is this is Paul’s appeal letter. He’s making a financial appeal letter to the Church at Corinth. He’s away from them when he’s writing it, but he’s going to be visiting them soon, and he’s trying to encourage them to collect the money and have it ready for him when he gets there. So what he does in this is he uses Christ as the model for charity, as the model for almsgiving. So he says these powerful words:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
So Christ is the model. Now pause there for a second and ask yourself a question. He says:
...Christ, that though he was rich…
When was Jesus rich? Look at His earthly life. Well, look at the Gospel of Luke, for example. It tells us in Luke chapter 2 that when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple, they had to offer the sacrifice of two turtledoves, which according to Leviticus 12, was the offering of the poor. You were supposed to offer the sacrifice of a lamb for that particular sacrifice. If you couldn’t afford a lamb, the law permitted you to offer two turtledoves as a sacrifice. So when Joseph and Mary offer that sacrifice, it reveals to us they weren’t even (at the time at least) ... they didn’t have enough money to buy a single lamb. So they would have been very poor. So when Paul says:
...Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor…
He’s not referring to Jesus of Nazareth, to His earthly life. There was never a time in Jesus’ earthly life when He was rich, so what’s Paul referring to? He’s referring to His preexistent state as the eternal Son before
the Incarnation. So here what Paul is doing is He’s saying, Christ Jesus, though He was spiritually rich (before the Incarnation), became poor, i.e. that is, emptied Himself of His divine glory, for your
sake. He becomes a man; He becomes human — watch this:
...so that by his poverty…
...you might become rich.
So there’s an exchange of spiritual goods here. Christ has all the plenitude of spiritual riches in His divinity. But He empties Himself of that glory and that power, and He takes on the fullness of humanity precisely in order to bestow the blessings of divinity on humanity, on those who believe and who become members of His body.
And so what Paul is saying here is that Christ is the model for the kind of generosity that the Corinthians should exercise. So how much did Jesus give up when He became man? Well, He gave up everything, right? As Paul says in Philippians 2:
… who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:6-7)
Now don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean He stopped being divine. Sometimes people will think that’s what it means. That’s not what He’s saying. He doesn’t cease to be a divine person. He doesn’t even cease to have a divine nature. However, He empties Himself of divine glory precisely by assuming a human nature, by assuming limited human form — a human body that can get tired, that can suffer, and that eventually can die. And in that poverty of the Incarnation, that’s going to be the mechanism by which Christ makes the human race rich with the spiritual blessings that He Himself possessed from all eternity as the Son of the Father.
And so that kind of generosity — which is essentially infinite — is the model for the Corinthians. So in the verses that aren’t around here and in other passages in the chapter, you’ll see that Paul is having a bit of a struggle getting the Corinthians to be as generous as he would like them to be, so he pulls out all of the stops here and basically says, “Your generosity should be modeled on the infinite generosity of Christ in the Incarnation.” How much do you want to give? Well, at least as much as Christ gave when He became poor for your
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