I don’t know about you, but I have a list of people I want to meet when I get to heaven. This is probably being a bit presumptuous by saying when I get to heaven, but this is why I want to meet the woman whose story we in the gospel of Mark, (5:21-43). Some people may call this woman’s faith presumptuous. Another person I want to encounter is Jairus, the synagogue official whose story we also heard in the gospel. A story within a story is a technique Mark uses often in his gospel. Biblical scholars call this a “sandwich technique” used in such a way that one story helps to interpret the other. Mark’s use of this technique helps us understand both the intensity and the depth of faith these two individuals had when they approached Jesus.
The woman with the hemorrhages said to herself, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” She did not put a qualifier to describe what would happen once she touched His clothes. She knew beyond a doubt that healing would come to her once she touched His garment. This is a powerful faith and Jesus acknowledged it. “Daughter, your faith has saved you.” Her faith stills touches people. We don’t know her name, but her story has inspired countless individuals over the centuries to move beyond fear and approach the Lord. Wouldn’t you Love to have a faith like her? I know I would, and this is the reason I want to meet her and have a conversation about her faith. I have so many questions I want to ask her.
What strikes me the most is her understanding of God upon which her faith is established. Her God was not unapproachable. Her God didn’t inflict suffering upon people. Her God was a God of life. Her God was a God of love and healing. Her God was a forgiving God who she could turn to in time of need. This was true for Jairus. He knew that Jesus was approachable and he could come to Jesus with his request. “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” In his words you hear the depth and strength of his faith. Like the woman with the hemorrhages, his faith inspired many over the centuries to move beyond fear and approach God with their request. They are memorialized in Mark’s Gospel, but their faith is still actively influencing others to come to the Lord Jesus.
There are three recommendations these two individuals would make to us today: First, they would encourage us to approach the healing and forgiving love of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This requires, on our part, a faith that Jesus can heal and forgive us. They would tell us that He is there waiting for us to come to Him. Second, they would encourage us to have faith and they would give us the simple recipe of faith. It is one-fifth determination on our part mixed with four-fifths working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit prepared both of them to approach Jesus. Third, they would underscore the need for hope. Over the twelve years before being healed by Jesus, the woman’s hope never died. Even though his daughter was at the point of death, Jairus’ hope was strong. Neither one of these individuals had in mind that their faith would continue to be effective down through the centuries. Neither do we have in mind that our faith in Jesus’ healing and forgiving power would ever influence others, but it does. Once we say “yes”, our discipleship is in the hands of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit will use its influence to touch the lives of those the Spirit has readied to approach the Lord. This is the circle of discipleship.