A TALE OF TWO HEALINGS – Fifth Sunday after Pentecost—Proper 8, Year B; Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (RC)

June 27, 2021

Revised Common Lectionary
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 or Lamentations 3:22-33 or Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24
Psalm 130 or Psalm 30
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13 (2a)
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Mark 5:21-43

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed yet again disparities both in health outcomes and in access to care. Black and Brown people in the United States have suffered higher rates of infection and death than Whites and have gotten vaccinated far more slowly. While immunizations are progressing at a steady rate in the developed world, many poor countries are having trouble in obtaining vaccine.

Today’s Gospel reading throws some light on the issue of access as it presents two intertwined stories of healing.

Jairus is a person of privilege, a synagogue leader and an important member of the local community. Distraught over his daughter’s illness and with no social or religious obstacles in his path, this man who was accustomed to receiving gestures of respect falls at the feet of Jesus to plead for the twelve-year old girl who lay dying at home. Jesus agrees to go with him so that he might lay hands on her.

The second story unfolds as Jesus sets out for the synagogue official’s home. Along the way he encounters someone completely unlike Jairus, a woman who lacked access because of her gender, low social status, and the ritual uncleanness that resulted from her long-term illness. Aware that she was a person of no standing, she decided to approach Jesus anonymously in the crowd, believing that if she could just touch his clothing, she would be healed.

She was indeed cured of her physical ailment, but that was only part of the healing that Jesus wanted to accomplish. He stopped what he was doing and sought her out to recognize her as a person. By calling her “daughter,” he publicly proclaimed an intimate relationship with someone with whom, according to the Law, he should have avoided any contact. The power of Jesus brought her healing in both body and spirit.

As the first story resumes, Jairus receives word that his daughter is dead. Jesus invites the synagogue leader to act in the same way as the woman who had just been healed—to let go of his fear and believe. Just as the woman had reached out her hand, so now Jesus stretches out his hand to Jairus’ daughter. Once again, he breaks through legal restrictions by touching a dead person, raising up the little girl and restoring her to life.

These two stories present Jesus as one sent by God with power to bring healing and life to all without distinction. The juxtaposition of these two stories proclaims God’s favor for the poor and the excluded. Before he goes to the home of the privileged synagogue official, Jesus not only cures a marginalized woman of her ailment but seeks her out to welcome her into an intimate relationship.

As we continue to deal with disparity in the world today, we hear the Good News that God’s favor is above all for those who are last and least. How would the world be different if health care for the poor were a priority rather than an afterthought? How will we, disciples of Christ, advocate for those who are still left out or ignored in the world today?

A Hymn for Today: “All with Joyful Exultation”

This paraphrase of Psalm 30 could easily have been sung by all of those touched by Jesus’ healing power in today’s Gospel reading: the woman with a hemorrhage, the little girl raised to life, and even her father Jairus. This hymn of praise to the God who brings healing and life is set to a joyful Hasidic melody that evokes dancing and merriment.

All with joyful expectation let us sing to God our praise;
to the rock of our salvation loud hosannas raise.

Lord, we sing with joyful voices;
your great power can lift and save;
by your healing touch, revive us;
life restore beyond the grave.

Praise to you, our sure salvation,
you, the Holy One above.
End the night so dimmed by anguish,
with your light of peace and love.

Change our sorrow to rejoicing;
clothe with gladness all despair;
cause unsteady feet that stumble
now to dance beneath your care.

Dry our tears we shed in mourning;
give us steadfast hope always;
fill our hearts with expectation;
fill our songs with thanks and praise.

Text: Ref. Hal H. Hopson, 2008; stanzas Michael Morgan, 1999, rev. 2011. © 2008 Birnamwood/MorningStar Music. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857.

Image Credit: Jesus Heals, Stained Glass, Mulungwishi United Methodist Church, Congo

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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