Of the many Gospel passages we read for Mass, this one always seems the most disjointed. It comes almost like a breaking news item in the middle of a longer piece. They bear equal weight, but the suddenness stands out one against the other. As quickly as the story breaks, the Gospel returns to its regularly scheduled program. The disjunction may be so striking that we miss the powerfully compared and contrasted subjects.
Hundreds of persons press in around Jesus, but only one is so faithful that the slightest touch cures her illness. Jesus stares around not to rebuke her, but to affirm her bold faith. Immediately, Jesus returns to his previous mission of healing Jairus’ daughter. Upon arrival, he tries to lift the spirits of the mourners, telling them the child simple sleeps.
Whereas the hemorrhaging woman trembled at the opportunity to touch Christ’s cloak, the family mocks Jesus. I do not imagine they do it out of malice, but the biting anger that may come at the death of a loved one. I can hear the sarcasm in my own voice if someone were to tell me my recently passed loved one was taking a nap. Jairus and his wife believe, however, and accompany Jesus into the room, watching his healing love. In affirmation of the child’s humanity, Jesus instructs them to feed her—resurrection followed by a meal of communion.
These two stories help me reflect upon my own faith: Am I bold, willing to dive to touch the edge of a cloak for my faith? Do I ridicule faith, or fiercely hope? Do I invite Christ’s healing love to reconcile my life?
—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.