Gospel Reflection June 30 – Deacon Stephen Petrill

Sunday, June 30

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 5:21-43


When Jesus had crossed again in the boat

to the other side,

a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.

One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.

Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,

“My daughter is at the point of death.

Please, come lay your hands on her

that she may get well and live.”

He went off with him,

and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.

She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors

and had spent all that she had.

Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.

She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd

and touched his cloak.

She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”

Immediately her flow of blood dried up.

She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,

turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”

But his disciples said to Jesus,

“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,

and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'”

And he looked around to see who had done it.

The woman, realizing what had happened to her,

approached in fear and trembling.

She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.

Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

While he was still speaking,

people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,

“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”

Disregarding the message that was reported,

Jesus said to the synagogue official,

“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside

except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,

he caught sight of a commotion,

people weeping and wailing loudly.

So he went in and said to them,

“Why this commotion and weeping?

The child is not dead but asleep.”

And they ridiculed him.

Then he put them all out.

He took along the child’s father and mother

and those who were with him

and entered the room where the child was.

He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”

which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.

At that they were utterly astounded.

He gave strict orders that no one should know this

and said that she should be given something to eat.

Gospel Reflection:

This weekend’s Gospel (Mark 5:21-43) employs a technique called “intercalation,” where the first story is introduced (Jairus pleads with Jesus to heal his sick daughter then they embark on a journey together), a second story is then presented (Jesus heals the woman afflicted with hemorrhages), then the first story is completed (Jesus heals Jairus’ daughter). This technique is used in several other places in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 3:20-35; Mark 6:7-32; Mark 11:12-25; Mark 14: 1-11; Mark 14:53-72), and is also called a “Markan Sandwich” (a second story sandwiched between the beginning and the end of the first story).

From a storytelling perspective, St. Mark uses intercalation the way a film editor uses flashbacks, montages, or parallel editing to add drama or tension; or to tell a more complex story by using multiple plot lines. In this weekend’s Gospel, St. Mark also makes a deeper theological point by showing the linkage between the story of the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of the woman with hemorrhages–disciples must exercise faith. The little girl is healed through Jairus’ faith in Christ. The woman is healed through her own faith in Christ.

Our lives are filled with stories within stories. These intercalations certainly add drama and tension to life; think of how many stories within stories happen within even a single day. As we live in and through these embedded stories, what emerges over time is a more complex narrative of what our lives ultimately mean and what we are truly about. As his disciples, let us pray that our faith in Christ brings healing and is the linkage that holds the many stories of our lives together.

Deacon Stephen Petrill