Fear and faith- Tuesday, 4th week in ordinary time – Mark 5: 21-43
We have one story and two miracles. One miracle is in favour of a socially and religiously prominent official, the other for a ‘nobody’. One of our characters in the miracle story has a name (Jarius) the other is unnamed. One made a request in faith for a healing, while the other, in fear, ‘stole’ a healing in faith. Never have two narratives been married so beautifully to instill faith, and cast out fear.
Incidentally the two stories told as one are found in all three synoptic Gospels, Mark’s narrative being the longest. Jesus has come from Gentile territory after having worked a miracle there, and now He is on the Western shore of the Sea of Galilee working miracles among the Jews. Jesus makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile.
The miracle stories sandwiched one into the other, give us an insight into the revolutionary social mind of Jesus which knew no boundaries. By the time we are done with this passage, Jesus would have been touched by a haemorrhaging woman and He himself would have touched a dead girl; two ritually impure strike outs for Jesus as per Jewish law. Yet, He is least ‘afraid’ of external norms and looks for faith, and encourages faith in both seekers.
In the narrative of the haemorrhaging woman, she is declared faithful by Jesus, “your faith has made you well.” In the other case, Jairus is encouraged to retain his faith, even in the face of death, “Do not fear, only believe.” The first is descriptive, the second prescriptive. Mark, in his Gospel constantly brings out the themes of fear and faith, and fear in faith.
Jesus has just returned from driving out a legion of demons from a man in Gentile territory. The response of the people of the village was fear, even though they recognized a miracle in faith. Yet they ask Him to leave their country. The woman in this story has faith yet she fears that her touch would pollute Jesus, rendering Him impure, or perhaps the fear that her faith was not strong enough.
Then there is the faltering faith of Jairus, who has just been told that his daughter has passed away and is obviously in fear prompting Jesus to boost his fearful faith with the words, “do not fear, only believe” (faith).
The woman fears doctors whom she had to deal with for twelve long years, doctors at whose hands she ‘suffered’, and who rendered her penniless with no respite for her condition. Yet it is the fear of more suffering, that drives her to faith in this Rabbi, Jesus.
It is with fear that the woman admits her faith healing. From her, the discharge of blood had been healed, while from Him ‘power’ has been discharged. Jesus may have not known “who,” was the cause of His power being discharged, but the woman certainly knows “what” caused the power to be discharged. With her fear being replaced by faith she went from being a ‘woman’ to becoming a ‘daughter’ and while the daughter was being acclaimed for her faith, another daughter was lost, only to be raised in faith.
Allow your fear to melt into faith.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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