Thursday (1st July) Said Mass but at the earlier time of 9.30am.
Sunday (4th July) Parish Mass commencing at 9.30am.
The church is not yet open on Tuesday mornings for prayer or coffee mornings. We are awaiting final advice (along with everyone else) from the Government.
St Mark’s gospel gives us a picture of two desperate people: one of them a synagogue official with a seriously ill daughter, and the other a woman who was afflicted and who had found no relief. Parents with very poorly children will almost always reach out for any possibility of a cure. A few months ago, I heard in the news the story of Tafida Raqeeb, a desperately ill child. Doctors in this country had said that the child would not respond to further treatment and should be allowed to die peacefully. Against this, her parents went through a legal route to access treatment in Italy. They won their case. For very understandable reasons, her parents refused to give up hope. Fortunately, their hope did not appear to be in vain because the child is now out of danger and slowly recovering. It must have seemed like a miracle.
St Mark’s gospel has quite a number of miracles as we see how the kingdom of God breaks through into our everyday world because of Jesus. These two people sought out Jesus because they had heard his reputation and because, quite clearly, they were at their wits’ end. Jairus would perhaps have been unlikely to have approached Jesus under other circumstances, because Jesus was often seen by synagogue officials as a troublesome man. But desperate people do desperate things, so he pleaded on his knees for Jesus to come and to live up to his reputation by healing his daughter.
As he is on his way, Jesus is waylaid by another person – a woman who was suffering from a persistent haemorrhage and who had found that the doctors, if anything, had made her condition even worse. In the crowd she touches Jesus. We are told that even in the melee of people, Jesus knew that someone had come into contact with him in order to be healed. So he seeks the woman out and tells her that her faith has made her whole. In fact, it is really the healing grace of God that has restored her to wholeness, but her faith had proved to be the channel of that grace. The woman would have been judged ritually unclean because of her bleeding, but Jesus knew that this contact could not make him unclean. What it would do was restore the woman’s health and allow her once again to be part of her community.
By now, the daughter of Jairus seemed to be beyond help. The professional mourners had already arrived. When Jesus said the child was sleeping, they broke off from their weeping and wailing and laughed at him with scorn. So, he sent them packing and took only Peter, James and John and the child’s parents in with him. It is then that he reached out and said some of the very few words of his native language that are recorded in the gospels: “Talitha koum” (little girl, get up). When the child does get up it seems like a foreshadowing of the resurrection of Jesus, when God would bring new life out of death. That place of sorrow and death became the place where the power of God was at work.
If faith is the channel through which God’s healing enters into our lives, then faith is something worth cultivating. Our contact with the Lord through the sacraments of the Church is the source of healing and of new beginnings. Into the present moment, the very life of God breaks through into our lives. Like Jairus and like the woman in the gospel we can reach out and kneel in prayer before the one who can bring healing to the troubled spirit. No situation is hopeless, even though it may sometimes feel that way. Perhaps one thing worth remembering is that faith is not a last resort. It is a relationship in which we come to a deeper knowledge of God’s love for us and in which we can begin to see the way ahead.
We are not told what happened to the people in the gospel who approached Jesus. The fact that their stories have been remembered and recorded is likely to be a sign that they came to follow Jesus. They have become part of our story of faith and we in our turn become part of that story. Through our lives others too can find the way to the healing and the life which we discover in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God.