13 Sunday B: Talitha Kum

Fr. Jude Botelho:

 Palmerstone North Evening Standard

When I was in New Zealand in 1973 I read this fascinating comment in a newspaper article by the Director of Radiotherapy and Radiology in that country: 'Cancer makes people start thinking of their lives. Everything they do has a keener edge on it and they get more out of life. In fact, some people never became complete human beings and really start living until they get cancer. We all know we are going to die some time, but cancer makes people face up to it. They are going to go on living with a lot of enjoyment, just because they have faced the fear of death. Cancer patients aren't dying. They are living. I have never seen a suicide because of cancer.'
Anthony Castle in 'Quotes and Anecdotes'

Today's gospel describes the healing power of Jesus as he reveals God's power at work restoring life and health through his healing touch. Both the faith of the woman suffering for twelve long years, and the faith of Jairus who was about to lose his daughter are stressed. Both incidents have much to teach us about faith helping us to go beyond. Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, came to Jesus begging for a cure for his daughter. Jairus' request showed that he believed that Jesus possessed a supernatural power. He came in humility and Jesus acceded to his request and set out for his house. While they were on their way the news came that his daughter had died. The messengers suggest that there was no point in troubling Jesus; the case was hopeless. But neither Jairus nor Jesus gives up. Jesus encourages Jairus, "Don't be afraid; only believe." Jesus goes into the child's room with the parents and taking the girl by her hand raises her to life. "Little child I say to you arise." And the child arose and began to walk. The same Jesus brings healing to the woman who suffered for twelve long years, who believed she would be healed if she touched the hem of his garment. But Jesus did not want it to be a quick-fix magical affair. He seeks her from the crowd, and points to her faith. "Your faith has healed you." God can come into our life even through what we consider insignificant and dirty -the hem of the garment!

"I only have a small pan!"
Two men went fishing. One man was an experienced fisherman, the other wasn't. Every time the experienced fisherman caught a big fish, he put it in his ice chest to keep it fresh. Whenever the inexperienced fisherman caught a big fish, he threw it back. The experienced fisherman watched this go on all day and finally got tired of seeing this man waste good fish. "Why do you keep throwing back all the big fish you catch?" he asked. The inexperienced fisherman replied, "I only have a small frying pan." Sometimes, like that fisherman, we throw back the big plans, big dreams, big jobs, and big opportunities that God gives us. Our faith is too small. We laugh at that fisherman who didn't figure out that all he needed was a bigger frying pan; yet how ready are we to increase the size of our faith? Whether it's a problem or a possibility, God will never give you anything bigger than you can handle. That means we can confidently walk into anything God brings our way. He can see all things through.

God always answers our prayers
The waters of the dam had burst their banks, and a veritable tidal wave was heading towards the nearest town. The police drove up the main street, calling on all people to vacate their homes and to avail of the transport provided for a quick exit out of town. One man, who knew about the danger, refused the offer, because he has prayed to God and he felt it was now up to God to take care of him. Shortly afterwards, the waters came roaring down the main street, and all ground floors were under water. The man was forced to retreat upstairs. He was at a front window when a boat came by, and the people in the boat tried to persuade him to get in the boat and come with them to safety. Once again, the man insisted that he had asked God to help him, and that God would look after him. After some time the water rose so high that the man was forced to climb up on the roof. Soon a helicopter came along but, once again, he refused the offer of help, because God was going to take care of him. Anyhow, surprise! Surprise! The man drowned. He arrived at the gates of heaven in a very angry and belligerent mood and asked Peter, what happens when someone like him asks for help. This puzzled Peter, who explained that, yes, God always answers prayers. He brought out the logbook of prayer, asked the man his name, and began to check the records. After a while he looked at the man, and said, 'Yes, there is a record here of your prayers. What puzzles me, though, is that there is also a record here of several answers to those prayers. It says here that we sent you the police, a group of people in a boat, and we even sent you a helicopter. Whatever happened to all that help? Didn't they show up?'
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel truth!'

Receiving in giving
I know a ranch in Colorado at the base of a mountain. From snowfields hundreds of feet above, two streams trickle down and divide. One grows until its waters are caught up by skilled engineers and made to irrigate a thousand ranches. The other runs into a blind valley and spreads into a lake with no outlet. There it poisons itself. In it are the carcasses of cattle who, thirsty and eager, have come to drink of the tainted flood. Some of them still stand upright in the miry bottom, their heads bent into the bitter tide, their flesh falling from their bones. The first lake has an outlet. It loses itself on a mesa and gives drink to the homes of men. The other turns upon itself and kills everything it touches. One loses life and finds it again in generosity. -the other loses life in stagnation, never to find it again.
George Stewart

Merchant of death or life?
About eighty years ago a man picked up the morning paper and, to his horror, read his own obituary! The newspaper had reported the death of the wrong man. Like most of us, he relished the idea of finding out what people would say about him after he died. He read past the bold caption which read, "Dynamic King Dies," to the text itself. He read along until he was taken aback by the description of him as a "merchant of death." He was the inventor of dynamite and had amassed a great fortune from the manufacture of weapons of destruction. But he was moved by this description. Did he really want to be known as a "merchant of death"? It was at that moment that a healing power greater than the destructive force of dynamite came over him. It guided him so that his energy and money moved to works of peace and human betterment. Today, of course, he is best remembered, not as a "merchant of death," but as the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize - Alfred Nobel.

Story to heal
Martin Buber tells the story of his paralyzed grandfather who was asked to relate a story about his great teacher, the famous and holy Baal Shem Tov. The grandfather replied by telling how the holy man used to jump up and down and dance when he was praying. Being swept up in the fervour of the narrative, the grandfather himself stood up and began to jump and dance to show how the master had done it. At that moment the grandfather was completely healed of his paralysis.
Brian Cavanaugh in 'The 'Sower's Seeds'

"Illnesses exist to remind us that we are not made of wood!"(Van Gogh). A painful experience causes us to reflect on our lives, and teaches us to be compassionate towards other sufferers. Compassion is not learnt without suffering.


From Fr. Tony Kadavil:

1. “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
Ann Jillian, a three-time Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress and singer, is an American actress born to Roman Catholic Lithuanian immigrant parents. Since 1985, she has added motivational speaking to her impressive list of credits, addressing business, medical, professional and women's groups with her own unique blend of humor and inspiration. Her prowess extends from the world’s concert halls, to feature film and the Broadway stage. She has starred in over 25 TV movies, and made hundreds of other TV appearances. Her TV movie, The Ann Jillian Story, which recounts her victory over breast cancer, was the #1 film of the TV season, but, more important, it delivered Ann's message about the hopeful side of breast cancer to its millions of viewers. In 1985 the then 35-year-old actress made headlines when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. On her way to the hospital to check the nature of the growth which she had noticed, she stopped at St. Francis de Sales Church and read the inscription on the door. “The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” She went into the church and prayed for the strength to accept her ordeal. The radiant trust in God and peace of mind she maintained before and after the surgery (double mastectomy), was big news in the media and a great inspiration for all cancer patients. She trusted in Jesus’ words given in today’s gospel, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  

2. “It was a good day for me”:
There is a story about the fourth-century Greek “Cynic Philosopher,” Diogenes of Sinilope. On a voyage to Aegina, he was captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Crete. As he gazed at the bystanders who were bidding for him, he looked at a man and told the pirate chief, “Sell me to that man because he needs a master.” The man who bought him was a Corinthian by name Xeniades. “What is your trade?” asked Xeniades. “The only trade I know is that of governing men by teaching them the art of virtuous self-control,” replied Diogenes. Xeniades was so impressed by his philosopher-slave that he promptly handed over to him the management of his household and the education of his children. “It was a good day for me,” Xeniades used to tell his friends, “when Diogenes entered my household.” Jairus, the father of the girl Jesus raised from death, as described in today’s gospel, must have given a better compliment to Jesus in expressing his commitment to Jesus and faith in his divinity.  

3: "This is where I found Christ."

Here is a beautiful old story about Zacchaeus, the tax collector. It tells how in later years, he rose early every morning and left his house. His wife, curious, followed him one morning. At the town well he filled a bucket... and he walked until he came to a sycamore tree. There, setting down the bucket, he began to clean away the stones, the branches, and the rubbish from around the base of the tree. Having done that, he poured water on the roots and stood there in silence, gently caressing the trunk with both of his hands. When his amazed wife came out of hiding and asked what he was doing, Zacchaeus replied simply, "This is where I found Christ." I can just imagine that for the rest of their lives, that woman who touched the tassel of Jesus' robe that day on the street...and the daughter of Jairus who was raised up in that room in her home, continually brought people back to those sacred spots and said, "This is where I found Christ! This is where Christ loved me into life!" Do you have a sacred spot like that? This is the Good News of our  Christian faith, isn't it? Love has the power to heal, to reconcile, and to redeem.

 4. Healed by laughing: 
"A cheerful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22).  In the 1300's, surgeon Henri de Mondeville reportedly told jokes to his patients in the recovery room. Laughter exercises the face, shoulders, diaphragm, and abdomen.  When the breathing deepens, the heart rate rises, and the blood takes up and transports more oxygen. Endorphins are released, pain thresholds are raised, and some studies suggest that even our immune systems are boosted.  When we laugh, others laugh too.  Laughter is a
contagious, highly effective, non-prescription medicine.  It has no side effects, and no one is allergic to it.  Have we had our dose of laughter today?  We can use the tool of humor to induce laughter for our health, healing and general sense of well-being.  We can even spend time in daily practicing our laughing out loud – maybe by smiling first, then leaning into a giggle, and then in outright belly laughs!   

5: A deaf man,
a blind man and a disabled man heard a rumor that God had come down to a church in the village to heal the sick.  They all went to find out if it was true.  God signed to the deaf man, "Can I help you, son?"  The man signed back that he would be so happy if he could hear again.  God touched the man and suddenly he could hear.  God then touched the blind man and he was able to see.  The third man was sitting in his wheelchair with his mouth wide open in amazement.  God looked at the man and asked him what he wanted. The man drew back and yelled, "Don't lay one finger on me! I'm on disability!"  

6: A pastor joke: 
One Sunday at Mass as the priest was giving his homily, a little baby in the front row suddenly started crying loudly.  The mother did her best to pacify the child but nothing worked.  So finally she got up and started to walk down the aisle to take the baby into the cry room.  The priest stopped his preaching, and very compassionately called out to the mother, "That's OK!  You don't have to leave.  The child isn't disturbing me."  The young woman turned around and said, "No, pardon me Father, but you're disturbing my child!"

7. Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King:
The whole world was saddened when Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died in a medical clinic in Mexico. What was she doing in Mexico? It's simple. Doctors in the United States had told her they could do no more for her. The clinic in Mexico offered hope. That hope may have been an illusion, but who can blame her? We'll do anything for hope. Ask someone who has been in chronic pain and has discovered that even the finest medical professionals don't have a clue about how to stop their pain. Many of these sufferers will go to any lengths to find someone who can give them relief. Wouldn't you? The woman with chronic hemorrhage in today’s first Gospel story, comes to Jesus with trusting Faith. She has heard that this is the physician she has been looking for.

Jairus' Daughter

Mark 5:21-43 - "The Healing of Jairus' Daughter and the Hemorrhaging Woman"
Mark 5:21-43 - "Be Healed, Be Held" by Leonard Sweet
A business executive became depressed. Things were not going well at work, and he was bringing his problems home with him every night. Every evening he would eat his dinner in silence, shutting out his wife and five-year-old daughter. Then he would go into the den and read the paper using the newspaper to wall his family out of his life.
After several nights of this, one evening his daughter took her little hand and pushed the newspaper down. She then jumped into her father's lap, wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him strongly. The father said abruptly, "Honey, you are hugging me to death!" "No, Daddy," the little girl said, "I'm hugging you to life!"

This was the greatness of Jesus. He took people where they were and hugged them to life. That is precisely what we see Jesus doing here in this dramatic passage in Mark 5...

 Every morning all humans do the same thing. We get up, take a shower, brush our teeth, and then decide what we are going to wear.
Generally in western culture it remains true that "Clothes make the man," or in the name of a popular website, "Clothes make the girl." Got a teenager? Then you know what I'm talking about. Then you know oh-so-purse-painfully how important it is to have the "right look." To wear the "right duds" so you can be the "right dudes." Even if you are not a "fashionista," it is almost impossible not to be influenced by what the current culture says is "cool" (or "hot"). Who doesn't want to "look good" and so "feel good" about themselves?
Every week the tabloids are filled with planted or paparazzi celebrity photos - either looking their best or revealing their worst. But whatever shape they are in, what those celebrities are sporting influences the fashion choices of thousands. Designers count on it. In fact they literally "bank" on it. If someone fabulous and famous wears something, it will sell. The "knock 'em dead" designs on red carpet runways are immediately copied into much cheaper "knock-offs" so that those with a bit of disposable income can outfit themselves like royalty. Even countries without "royal families" have their "royalty." 

But while all of us - whether teenager or ladder climbing corporate bureaucrat - think that our clothes lend use power and prestige, the opposite was the case for Jesus in Galilee in the first century...
 Touch in Church 

One of my cyberfriends came across this in a church newsletter called "Touch in Church:"
What is all this touching in church? It used to be a person could come to church and sit in the
pew and not be bothered by all this friendliness and certainly not by touching.
I used to come to church and leave untouched. Now I have to be nervous about what's expected of me. I have to worry about responding to the person sitting next to me.
Oh, I wish it could be the way it used to be; I could just ask the person next to me: How are you?
And the person could answer: Oh, just fine, And we'd both go home... strangers who have known each other for twenty years.
But now the minister asks us to look at each other. I'm worried about that hurt look I saw in that woman's eyes.
Now I'm concerned, because when the minister asks us to greet one another, the man next to me held my hand so tightly I wondered if he had been touched in years.
Now I'm upset because the lady next to me cried and then apologized and said it was because I was so kind and that she needed a friend right now.
Now I have to get involved. Now I have to suffer when this community suffers. Now I have to be more than a person coming to observe a service.
That man last week told me I'd never know how much I'd touched his life.
All I did was smile and tell him I understood what it was to be lonely.
Lord, I'm not big enough to touch and be touched! The stretching scares me.
What if I disappoint somebody? What if I'm too pushy? What if I cling too much? What if somebody ignores me?
"Pass the peace." "The peace of Christ be with you." "And also with you." And mean it. Lord, I can't resist meaning it! I'm touched by it, I'm enveloped by it! I find I do care about that person next to me! I find I AM involved! And I'm scared.
O Lord, be here beside me. You touch me, Lord, so that I can touch and be touched! So that I can care and be cared for! So that I can share my life with all those others that belong to you!
All this touching in church -- Lord, it's changing me!
What was it our audacious friend said so many centuries ago? "If I but touch...I will be healed."
 David E. Leininger, ChristianGlobe Illustrations,
12 Years 

Twice in this story Jesus is touched by or himself touches someone ritually and ceremonially unclean but not only is Jesus not contaminated, the ones who had been contaminated to begin with are made holy and whole. Jesus has crossed the boundaries that had once defined the community, has rewritten the rules, and so has revealed a new day. Make no mistake: this story is all about the creation of a New Israel. Mark seeded this story with clues. How long had the woman been bleeding? Twelve years. How old was the little girl Jesus raised? Twelve years. No Jewish person reading this story could fail to see the repetition of the number twelve as a symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Long about the same time that Jairus welcomed his little girl into the world, a women he didn't know began to hemorrhage. For twelve years this woman suffered. For twelve years this little girl grew and became ever-more-dear to her father. Both women were headed toward a rendezvous with Jesus on the very same day. Although their paths to Jesus were as different as could be, both of these daughters of Israel would point forward to the new community Jesus came to build.

Scott Hoezee, The Touch
The Wounded Healers
With all its imperfections, sins, blemishes, and warts, the Church of Jesus Christ is the intended healer of the world's wounds. Christians are called to be compassionate, wounded healers.

Perhaps, Henri Nouwen, the Roman Catholic theologian, has said this better than anyone else. The author of many books, Nouwen speaks of Christians as "wounded healers" who have compassion.

Compassion is not pity. Pity lets us stay at a distance. It is condescending.
Compassion is not sympathy. Sympathy is for superiors over inferiors.
Compassion is not charity. Charity is for the rich to continue in their status over the poor.
Compassion is born of God. It means entering into the other person's problems. It means taking on the burdens of the other. It means standing in the other person's shoes. It is the opposite of professionalism. It is the humanizing way to deal with people. "Just as bread without love can bring war instead of peace, professionalism without compassion will turn forgiveness into a gimmick."
Ron Lavin, Alone/Together, CSS Publishing Co., Inc.
 Qualification for the Gift of the Gospel

Jesus came to raise the dead. The only qualification for the gift of the Gospel is to be dead. You don't have to be smart. You don't have to be good. You don't have to be wise. You don't have to be wonderful. You don't have to be just have to be dead. That's it.

Robert Farrar Capon

What is at about human nature that makes us put off the most important things until a crisis looms? So often we coast in our relationships until they skid into a crisis. We think nothing of spending thousands on a car and blindly drive it by the homeless shelter everyday. We think nothing of a sixty-hour workweek but can't find time for dinner as a family.
We live lives of loneliness and sorrow because those things that could build our friendships, family, and faith get our leftover time.
 Then, one day it is too late, we have waited too long. We are like the Rabbi who did not run to Jesus until his daughter was "at the point of death [eschatos]."
Take a moment to examine your life today. What is at the "eschatos" - the point of death - in your life right now? What part of your spiritual or relational life is barely breathing? Find ways to make those areas (family, friendships and faith) a higher priority than career and income. Do something different this week. Before scheduling anything else, book time with God, schedule an appointment with those in your own family. Then, after prioritizing God and your family, then set up the rest of the week.
Jerry Goebel, Arise!
 Our Relationship with God 
One of the reasons people tend to see faith as a religion about God instead of a relationship with God is the sense that they are not worthy of the attention of an Almighty God. "My problems are too small for God to care about." or "With all the pain and suffering in this world, why would God care about me?" are a couple of ways people give expression to this sense of insignificance. The sense is the one  expressed by our theme title today, "How can one so great care for one so small."
Have you ever felt that sense of insignificance? There have been times when I've gazed into the incredible expanse of a starlit sky and felt ever so small and insignificant. Even our planet is hardly a speck of dust in the vast cosmos.
And yet, the heart of the lesson for today says that God is attentive to the heartache and suffering of all persons, no matter how insignificant they may seem to the world around them.
Religion can get in the way of a relationship with God. Faith is not about rules, regulations and religion. It is about we human beings reaching out to a God who reaches out to us through Jesus Christ who reaches into the pain and anguish of our living. The good news for the people in our scripture lesson is that the barriers all fall away. For the woman, for Jairus and for the little girl - the greatness of God and the good news of Jesus Christ eliminate all obstacles to health and life.
And aren't you glad that Christ cares more about our wholeness and our living than he does about the niggling details of religious convention? When I am in anguish and wish for the presence of Christ, I do not need to worry that I am too great a sinner or that some folks would consider me to be unacceptable -- I know that Jesus cared for a woman who was a social reject and for a little girl that was not among the children of his followers.
John Jewell, Can One So Great Care for One So Small?
 The Grow in Clusters

Though I have never seen the Sequoia trees of California, known as Redwoods, I am told they are spectacular. Towering as much as 300 feet above the ground. Strangely, these towering trees have unusually shallow root systems that spider out just under the surface of the ground to catch as much of the surface moisture they can. And this is their vulnerability. Storms with heavy winds would almost always bring these giants crashing to the ground but this rarely happens because they grow in clusters and their intertwining roots provide support for one another against the storms.
When we are together, either as a family or a church, we provide this same support. Pain and suffering come to all of us. But, just like those giant Sequoia trees, we can be supported in those difficult times by the touch of one another's lives. The knowledge that we have someone; that we are not alone; that there is someone who is willing to touch us, hold us, keeps us from being destroyed.
Brett Blair,
Jesus Brings Life

With whom do you most identify in today's gospel? There are plenty of characters here who are being  stung by death. There is a woman whose whole life has been caught, dominated by a terrible, life-demanding illness. There is a distraught father. A little girl whose young life is being cut short. There are the baffled disciples, the crowd who doesn't know what to think of all this. Where are you?
And yet, intruding into the story is another face, the strong, live-giving face of Jesus. Mark says that Jesus was forever intruding into fixed, settled, hopeless situations and bringing life. Hear his strong voice speaking over the laments and dirges in today's gospel? Hear him as he calls to the little girl, "Get up!"

 I think he may be calling to you...