A reflection by Fr Joseph Edattu, VC based on Mark 5:21-43
Two miracles are described in this passage: the healing of Jairus’s daughter and that of the bleeding woman. Several remarkable connections stand out in the two stories. For instance, Jairus’s daughter was 12 years old and she was dying while the woman had been suffering from bleeding for 12 years.
Jairus was a synagogue official; a learned man who knew the Bible very well. During those times, officials like Jairus held complete authority over the synagogue, hence he must have had the opportunity to read the Old Testament and to listen to all the teachings. He would also have been a very wealthy man. In contrast, the woman was illiterate and poor.
While the synagogue official openly approached Jesus for healing, this poor woman sought healing from Him secretly. Jesus discreetly healed Jairus’s daughter, only in the company of His inner circle of disciples and the child’s parents present. However, when Jesus healed the woman who approached Him in secret, He ensured that the miracle was publicized.
Knowledge does not equal faith
“When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.” (Mark 5:21-24).
Remember, Jairus is a highly influential official responsible for overseeing the synagogue. However, when he approached Jesus, he humbled himself, falling at His feet and earnestly pleading for help. Let us recall the Roman centurion in Luke 7 who sought healing from Jesus. The centurion, though not a learned man and unfamiliar with the Old Testament, demonstrated remarkable faith. He told Jesus, “You don’t need to come to my home; just say the word, and it will be enough.”
Yet Jairus, being a synagogue official well-versed in the Scriptures and diligently listening to the Word every day, encountered a challenge in his faith. When he implored Jesus, saying, “My little daughter is critically ill, so you must come and lay hands on her to heal her,” he was prescribing the specific manner in which Jesus should heal her. It seemed as though he was dictating to Jesus, as if a word of Jesus’ prayer was insufficient but there was need to physically go to her. Jairus’s faith appeared to be lesser in comparison to the Gentile centurion.
Remember, simply possessing knowledge of the Bible does not automatically indicate strong faith. For example, a person may be teaching in the seminary or be a professor, but not have strong faith in God, although they have degree titles attached to their names. There are priests and professors who have made big blunders against the teaching of Jesus and of the Bible. Therefore, always remember that knowledge and faith are distinct. Just because a person has knowledge, it doesn’t follow that that person has strong faith. Jairus, despite his knowledge, exhibited less faith than the Gentile centurion.
Consider the example of qualified professionals who have varying capacities despite having received the same education. When they get a job, some perform excellently, while others struggle significantly. Doctors, for instance, receive the same training but some are exceptional; able to diagnose the problem within no time, while others of the same training cannot. Remember, just because someone is a priest, or has studied theology, or is teaching in the seminary, it does not guarantee receiving the correct answer that aligns with God’s intention.
Only one role model − Jesus
Fr. Joseph reflects on a time when he held certain priests, theologians, and professors in high regard and trusted them implicitly, considering them to be reliable authorities whose words were unquestionably correct. It is a natural human tendency to trust some people completely. But once he started reading the Bible and understanding its meaning, alongside studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he began to notice errors in the interpretations of many people.
We need to exercise utmost caution when we listen to and accept theological interpretations. If you listen to any preaching, it is crucial not to blindly believe, but make sure that it is in accord with the Word of God that is written in the Bible and with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If they contradict these sources, we should not blindly obey wrong teachings.
For instance, in some countries like Germany, there have been instances where certain priests have disregarded the Catechism of the Catholic Church and have blessed homosexual unions and marriages. In other places, some priests even claim that Jesus Christ is only one of the saviors, yet they continue to be priests. Therefore, just because someone is knowledgeable, that doesn’t mean they have strong faith so that we can follow them. We should have only one role model − not any priest, or professor, or theologian − but Jesus Christ.
We all need to establish this practice, because there are so many false prophets (even in the form of angels) in this world and many false teachings to mislead you. Therefore, we have to be very careful in discerning the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Gospel reading, Jairus, the synagogue official, had knowledge of the Bible but limited faith. In contrast Luke’s Gospel narrates the centurion’s words of faith to Jesus “I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof . . . but say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:6-7). Jesus spoke the word and healing took place instantaneously. In contrast, the synagogue official requested Jesus to physically lay His hands on the child for her healing. Though Jesus could have instantly healed the girl, owing to Jairus’s weak faith, He respected Jairus’s request, however, the blessing experienced a delay. In contrast, the centurion’s strong faith led to his immediate healing.
A secret touch and a public testimony
Sandwiched between the story of Jairus and his daughter, is the story of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years. Picture this scene: Jesus and Jairus and a huge crowd were approach Jairus’s home. Crowds pressing around Jesus and from them was a woman whom nobody noticed. She approached secretly because of her bleeding issue, as in those days, she was considered unclean and by touching anyone, they too were deemed unclean. She was going through a tough time for more than 12 years.
“And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:25-30)
Why did Jesus ask this? He knew this woman was the one who had touched Him and that she had been healed. He could have kept quiet. But Jesus made sure this testimony should be announced, that this healing should not be hidden. Why? Perhaps one of the many reasons was because it was necessary for Jairus to see something supernatural so that his faith would be increased, which would then have an impact on his family, especially for his daughter to be healed.
Jesus was intentionally stimulating faith within Jairus by showcasing this miracle before him. As Jairus stood witnessing these events, he might have felt that Jesus was needlessly delaying, potentially endangering his daughter. Jairus desired Jesus to swiftly reach his home and heal her. However, Jesus deliberately performed this miracle in his presence, aiming to strengthen the problem of his faith.
“And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:31-33).
She openly confessed the truth of her secret act in front of all, as a result they knew she was unclean. According to the law of Moses, if she touched Jesus, He too would become unclean. However, the unexpected occurred: rather than Jesus becoming unclean, the unclean woman found herself cleansed, upon touching His garment. This marked a significant departure from the belief held by the Israelites, where contact with an impure individual rendered others impure as well. In Christianity, within the new Israel, anyone who is unclean, upon approaching Jesus, experiences a transformative cleansing.
Unclean? Come to Jesus
In Christianity, coming to Jesus brings immediate cleansing. Many individuals often perceive themselves as unholy and unworthy to stand before God. They may say, I don’t want to go to church today, I am unholy. I don’t want to attend the Holy Mass now, I am unclean. I am unholy and unclean, therefore I don’t pray. Maybe it is customary to exclude the unholy from sacred places or prohibit contact with holy objects, with regard to other faiths. However in Christianity, anyone unholy or unclean, is encouraged to seek Jesus; you will be made clean. Go and touch Jesus; you will be made holy. Call upon His name and hold onto Him and you will be sanctified. This unique aspect sets Christianity apart.
We cannot achieve holiness through our own abilities, talents, or efforts, even through fasting, prayer, or isolating ourselves from the world. Only Jesus has the power to make us holy. If you feel that you are unholy and unclean, you need Jesus more than anyone else. Attending church, praying, holding onto Jesus, and reading the Bible become even more vital for you. The more you do this you will increase in holiness.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34).
Jesus validated the woman’s healing as she testified openly to the whole world. Likewise, when you openly testify to your healing before others, it will be affirmed. Therefore, do not conceal the healings that God has given you, testify in front of everyone.
Don’t worry about the delay
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” (Mark 5: 35)
All this time, Jairus was surely feeling very restless, thinking Jesus was unnecessarily wasting time, while his daughter was dying, instead of coming and healing her. And as he feared, it happened… his daughter died.
But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
In life, do not worry about delays; fear not, only believe! We are afraid and have our own ideas about how Jesus should heal. We think, if I do this I will be healed. If I do that my daughter will be healed. If Jesus comes my daughter will be healed. If the priest comes and prays over her, my daughter will be healed. Christ says, have faith in God; not in the process of healing, but in Me! He knows how to heal you and will do it for the delay, the seeming lateness is not a problem at all.
Many people wonder why their healing or miracle or family’s blessing is delayed. Believe and do not let go of Jesus nor listening to the Word, as He knows how to heal and bless you with the best.
Surround yourself with faith
“He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James” (Mark 5:37).
Jesus did not want any unnecessary people to join in, only those who had faith in Him. For a miracle to take place, you should be surrounded by those people who have faith in God. If they lack faith or are non-believers refusing to acknowledge Jesus, miracles and wonders will be absent.
It is crucial to make and surround oneself with faith-filled friends. Beware of books that twist the truth about Jesus and friends who read it, because the Liar is out there busy spreading lies. If you let those falsehoods seep in you will gradually lose your power, anointing, hence miracles will not happen. If you really want miracles and wonders to take place, make sure you “take with you” those who have faith in Christ. They are the ones touched by His power, anointed by His grace, and filled with the Holy Spirit’s fire.
Jesus could not work His miracles in His hometown. The Word of God makes it crystal clear that their lack of faith held Him back. If your family members and friends do not believe in Jesus, even if you have faith in Jesus, miracles may not take place because you are surrounded by non-believers who have no faith in God.
“When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was” (Mark 5:38-40)
Paid professional mourners were present and not surprisingly they started off by crying, then they began laughing at Jesus. These were not family members but hired hands. So would it not have been better for them to see Jesus raising the child from the dead, in order to believe? In fact, Jesus had no interest to show His power in front of unbelievers. God does not perform miracles for showing off. For those who were not ready to believe in Jesus Christ, they were sent out. Taking only the child’s father and mother and His disciples, Jesus went in and raised the child from the dead, in the presence of those who believed Him.
While it is crucial to be surrounded by those who believe in God to activate miracles, you need not have to cut off ties with the rest. It is only necessary to ensure that these ungodly friends do not mislead you in their advice. Simultaneously ensure the friends who are advising or guiding you are people who love and have faith in Jesus Christ, so that you may not be influenced by the wrong information continuously fed into your mind, as you will lose out on miracles.
Many people are brainwashed by their own friends, colleagues and classmates. Some children, while playing computer games, end up befriending strangers and foreigners; they get swept away by wrong ideologies continuously fed into their minds and falling into the trap laid by these people. To safeguard ourselves, we must surround ourselves with those who believe and love Jesus, for our prayers will be answered and we will be able to testify to miracles!