Desperation has no dignity – Tuesday, 4th week in ordinary time – Memorial of St John Bosco – Mark 5:21-43
Jesus could be called a jet-setter of sorts except that his mode of transport was a humble fishing boat. He seemed to be a man on a mission, zipping across from Capernaum to Gerasene and then to the West shore of the Sea of Galilee. His travel by boat finds mention several times in chapters four and five of the Gospel of Mark. (4:1,4:36&37, 5:2 and 5:21). But we know that these boats also became his pulpit as great crowds gathered around him (4:1, 5:21)
We are now told of two miracle stories rolled into one incident and I have dealt with the interesting details of the same in my previous article https://www.pottypadre.com/fear-and-faith/ . For today, I want to focus on what can we take home as a point of reflection from this Gospel.
We are told that Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue. The ruler of the synagogue was the man chosen to care for the physical arrangements of the synagogue, namely the building, its contents, and its arrangements for worship. While the details in the Gospel of Mark and Luke run parallel with a few minor differences the Gospel of Matthew, takes a different turn. In Matthew, the synagogue ruler is unnamed, the girl’s age is not mentioned, she has already ‘just died’ and the father’s request is that Jesus lay his hand upon her ‘and she will live [again]’ In other words, in Matthew he requests Jesus to reverse her death rather than prevent it, as in Mark and Luke.
Whatever be the case, here is a desperate man who falls at Jesus feet (5:22) and begs him repeatedly (5:23). It is not that Jesus needs to begged repeatedly that is being stressed but the desperation of a father for his daughter that drives him to repeat the same plea again and again without stopping. This was a tragic scene played out in full view of ‘a great crowd gathered’ (5:21). Desperation has no dignity; it only has determination.
While the Gospel tells us of a very desperate and vocal father it also tells us of a silent yet desperate woman. In this great drama of Jairus’ predicament, was an unnamed and insignificant woman. St Mark tell us of her desperation and he does this in great detail. Hers was a story of physical suffering one that she bore for twelve years. Her hemorrhage’s had caused her to ‘endure’ much. She had seen several physicians and she was no better but grew worse with every passing physician. Luke 8:43 adds one more detail of her suffering; she had spent all her money on physicians. She was not just broken; she was also flat out broke!
In the midst of our desperation comes Jesus. The woman not only receives a healing but her faith is rewarded with a title of endearment. Jesus calls her “daughter.” Her fear and shame and financial struggle are all taken away in one swift move; all showcased by the proclamation of Jesus when he says, “your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
Meanwhile a desperate Jairus receive the news that his daughter is dead. It was Jairus turn now to have faith. He had seen what Jesus did for the woman, he had heard him say to her that her faith had made her well; this was Jairus faith moment for he is told by Jesus, “do not fear, only believe.” Jairus’ faith was unwavering; this when his household laughed in the Lord’s face when he said, “the child is not dead but sleeping.’ Thomas Aquinas rightly said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Jairus and his wife believed and their faith was rewarded. The woman with a bleeding and her faith was rewarded. We believe Lord, help our unbelief!