A Cry From the Deep

Two people cry out in the gospel narrative: the president of the synagogue, Jairus, whose daughter is dying, and the woman who has suffered heavy bleeding for 12 years. Both have to cross boundaries to make their request. The president fell at his feet, recognizing Jesus’ authority, which given previous encounters with Jewish leadership must have been a tough decision. The woman has to break the double taboo of addressing a man in public and risking the contamination of Jesus because of her condition, which was seen as sinful under Jewish religious law. But only the crossing of boundaries empowers Jesus to heal.

A feature of Mark’s story of Jesus is the presence of the crowd, always pressing, always threatening interruption. In the middle of it all, Jesus attends to the woman, and only then proceeds to the home of Jairus. Symbolism is rife in these verses. “Sleep” is a euphemism for lack of faith (Mark 13:36). “Twelve” signifies the number of Israel’s tribes.

In the end this is a story about healing, but not just of individuals. Jesus interrupts his journey to the home of the privileged to heal one of the outcasts who emerges from the crowd. As Ched Myers reminds us, “Only when the outcast is restored to true ‘daughterhood’ can the daughter of the synagogue be restored to life.” Today we might say that only when the marginalized have been restored to their rightful place in humanity can the affluent world discover its true vocation.

Where does the story of these two women touch your story? Have you experienced being broken or marginalized? Who around you is like this? How can your church or community bring healing?