Jairus’ Daughter and the Woman who touched Jesus clothes
Growing up in Canada, as a teenager I had a paper route. It was the classic North American thing. The papers were dropped off around the corner each day and my friend and I would take turns doing the deliveries. My friends always had something to spend his money on. I was always more careful about spending my money. I wanted to be convinced I really wanted the things on which I spent my money. If there was something expensive I thought I wanted I would tell myself, if you still want it in 6 months, then you can spend the money. I would have desired the thing in question enough for it to be worth spending the money on. Of course, I was fickle, my desires were not that consistent. Once 6 months had passed I’d usually moved onto something else that I thought I wanted. Clearly I simply hadn’t wanted it enough.
Wanting something, having a desire or an eagerness for something is an important part of achieving it. An athlete will tell you that wanting to win, or beat your personal best. Having that desire is an essential part of overcoming and achieving the result. You may have heard of the search for 12 school boys believed to be trapped in a cave in Thailand and the amazing lengths that the government, the military and volunteers are going to in order to free them. The whole country is summoning up it’s desire for the success of the rescue operation, they are urging those searching on. Of course, eagerness, a desire to win isn’t always enough. Germany can tell you wanting to remain World Cup champions isn’t enough.
In today’s Gospel we have this wonderful story of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with haemorrhages. I remember as a child in the choir we looked across the church at a banner telling the story of this Gospel. As a child there is something so encouraging about it. Jesus gets off a boat, having cross the river again, immediately he is surrounded by a great crowd, and Jairus turns up asking for Jesus to help his sick daughter. Jesus doesn’t even get away from the crowd before he realises there is somebody else there who wants to be healed and has touched his cloak and been healed. Even the disciples point out that loads of people are pressing in on him, what does he mean one person has touched his cloak? But she comes forward and confesses and Jesus tells her to go in peace. Jesus goes on to Jairus’ house, but not before others come to tell him there is no hope. Jesus invites the girl to get up and she proceeds to walk about. As a child it is comforting to hear this story of a superhero Jesus who zaps illnesses left right and center. As an adult I find it much more challenging. Why these two people are healed – because they have faith? because they ask? What about those who have faith and aren’t instantly healed – are they just not faithful enough?
Today we have a baptism, we bring a new life into the church by washing her clean of sin in the font? She will be delivered from the bondage of the world, and we are told a place is made for her in God’s Kingdom. What of those who aren’t baptised?
But healing is not simply the end of suffering, much like baptism doesn’t mean a person never sins. The woman who touches Jesus’ cloak was suffering not only a medical condition, but one which the traditions and laws of the time would have excluded her from engaging in worship of God and the fellowship of her friends. She would have been struggling and suffering both in body, mind and soul trying to deal with her illness and Jesus gave her a way to be comforted. A way to rejoin her community and be included. Healing does not always need to have some miraculous cure, though to be included when one was excluded, to be returned to right relationship with God when one has been out of touch or ostresized is always miraculous.
In baptism we acknowledge our hopes, our desires for the person being baptised. For this wonderful baby we have before us, her parents will be eager for many things for her in her life. Some will be all that was hoped and more, others will not. But we know that Christ will be with her. As Paul says in the passage from his letter to the Corinthians which we read today, our inheritance of the Kingdom is not according to what we have or what we give. We cannot earn our place in the people of God. But if we desire it, there is a place for each of us in God’s kingdom. And today the newly baptised joins us in this people of God, the body of Christ as a full member of God’s Church.
Not because of anything she has been able to do. And God’s healing is available to all of us if we have a desire to receive what God is offering us. Freedom from the corruption of evil. Comfort and peace in relationship with Christ.
This desire, this yearning, this eagerness for God’s love, for comfort, for forgiveness, for healing is there in each of us. What Christ will do for us, how he will comfort each of us will help us to live our lives as those who are fully alive. In the flourishing of God’s love and grace we can become the people God created us to be.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
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