Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More
by Angela M Jendro
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13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Read the Gospel of Mark 5:21-43
The Scriptures today confront our anger at God for death and suffering. Wisdom 1:13-14 reminds us however that neither of these came from Him:
|“God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living. For He created all things that they might exist.”|
When we read the Creation account in Genesis 1 and 2, nowhere do we find disease, suffering, or death. Rather, God’s creation reflected His glory and so He commanded all the living things that He made to “be fruitful and multiply.”
Death entered not through God, but through sin. Satan and the fallen angels sinned against God and chose an eternity of suffering for the sake of prideful rebellion over an eternity of joy at the cost of humble obedience. Adam and Eve did not experience suffering or death until they joined Satan in sin and disobeyed God as well. In consequence, Genesis 3-9 relays the sad story of the proliferation of sin and suffering beginning with this first Original Sin. Toil, pain in childbirth, marital struggles, sibling rivalry, murder, polygamy, sickness, and death each begin with the decision to sin by the free will of individuals. As much as we want to blame God, the truth is most of our suffering stems from our own poor choices or the choices of others.
Sure, you might say, we are at fault but can’t God do anything about it? Why does He sit back in silence? Doesn’t He care? YES! From the beginning, God offered a merciful helping hand to sinful humanity. When Adam and Eve realized they were naked, He gave them clothes. When He confronted them about the consequences of their sins, He also promised to one day send a Savior (Genesis 3:15). He made covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and so on. Finally, His only begotten Son left the glory of Heaven to take on a lowly human nature, freely divesting Himself of His divine privileges to live the life of a creature so as to carry our Cross and personally meet us in our need. St. Paul describes it well in 2 Corinthians 8:9:
|“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.”|
God literally has skin in the game. Not only did Jesus offer healing, in today’s Gospel we see how much He cares when He heals. He accompanied the grief-stricken father to attend to the dying little girl. When He entered the room He didn’t want people gawking or treating it like magic. Instead Jesus sent everyone out but the parents and a few of His apostles.
When Jesus heals it’s a personal encounter. Jesus understands our pain and our needs because He lived it. Being man, He has shared our experience. Being God, He has the power to re-create us and restore us with a Word. By His divine power, Jesus commanded the girl to get up, thereby empowering her to do so. “Little girl, I say to you, arise”(v.41). From His human experience, He commands the little group with Him to give her something to eat. What a great little detail! I imagine her family and the apostles were just standing there in shock when she came back to life. Jesus moved on to the practical need at hand – after getting well from a long sickness a person is ravishingly hungry. Therefore, He instructed them not to talk about it but instead to give her something to eat.
This encounter with the grieving father and dying girl has all the drama of a great script. Except, a fiction writer would not have interrupted the momentum with the seemingly tangential account of the woman with a hemorrhage – an encounter with competing drama that would be a distraction to a story. But this is not a fictional story, this is real life. I learned early on as a mom that once you have kids you can say goodbye to uninterrupted focus on any task. Nothing, not even dishes, can be completed without interruption. Even now, although my kids are teens, I was interrupted yesterday by all three texting and calling and needing something even though I had said I was travelling for a few hours and would have spotty cell service. I recall one time in particular that illustrates the mulit-tasking of relational living. At the time my kids were little. I was driving home from visiting my dad and my brother caught a ride with me. As we were talking in the front seat kids asked for snacks, water, help with the dvd, and so on. I just kept talking, driving, and handing things back or fixing the dvd player with one hand, all while keeping my eyes on the road. My brother just stopped and laughed and said, “how are you doing this?”. With my first child I was a rookie for sure, but by three I had practice.
Jesus lived real life and cared for real people. While helping one family, a woman reached out in faith and needed His help too. People’s needs are rarely convenient but love always makes time. As God, Jesus could easily have healed her as He walked along, somewhat like my brother’s astonishment as I tended the needs of three children while we travelled. Here again however, Jesus underscored the relationship between faith, healing, and personal encounter with Him. He’s not a magic wand or a machine. The woman with the hemorrhage was healed because of His power and her faith. At the same time, He stopped what He was doing to pause and encounter her personally. In asking who touched Him, He invited her to not only receive His healing power, but to be received by Him personally. He didn’t want her to feel like a desperate beggar, so He gave her the opportunity to bravely step forward, and then affirmed her in front of everyone for her faith. How many people must have avoided her for so many years due to her bleeding? And here Jesus received her and invited her back into communion with God and with society.
We live in a culture that wants a quick fix with a pill to remedy any ailment. Thankfully, we live in a time when medicine has produced a pill to fix a myriad of things. However, some things cannot be alleviated so simply. Christianity is not a pill that will make you instantly happy and take away all your problems. It is however a personal encounter with Christ Who is both God and man and cares for you. Suffering and death come from sin. Life and joy come from God. Faith does heal. Sometimes He heals in a moment, other times it takes years of relationship with Him to allow His work to fully take root in our souls. The Gospel affirms that no matter how dire the situation, Jesus will answer. We only need to ask in prayer or to reach out to Him and touch Him. Be prepared though. After suffering for so long, health can seem foreign. When Jesus commands you to arise and be at peace, you must leave your sickness behind and live as a new creation.
- Spend some time in silence, reaching out to Christ like the father of the little girl or the woman with the hemorrhage. Bring your troubles and worries to God…be humble like the woman to admit you need help.
- Set a reminder on your phone or with sticky notes to pause throughout the day and encounter Christ. Bring your needs of the moment before Him, no matter how small, and offer Him thanks for His presence and help.
All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro