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240630 Pentecost 6B 2 Samuel 1: 1, 17-27, Psalm 130 2 Corinthians 8: 7-15 Mark 3:21-43

+In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The stories we hear today are about faith and courage and especially about the faith and courage of un-named women.

David was a man who had great faith in God.  While Saul was still King of Israel, and many years before the king died, David had been anointed as King of Israel.  Because of Saul’s jealousy, David had to flee from Saul into enemy territory until it was safe for him to return when Saul died.  David may have wondered when God’s promise that he would become king would come true, but his struggles would prepare him for the great responsibilities he would face.  David was a talented musician.  He played the harp and brought peace through music to Saul’s troubled mind.  He brought music into the worship services of the temple and wrote many of the psalms.  Saul had caused much trouble for David, but when he died, David composed a lament for the king and his son Jonathan who was David’s closest friend.  David had every reason to hate Saul, but he chose not to.  Instead, he chose to look at the good Saul had done and to ignore the times when Saul had attacked him.  Keeping a record of wrongs or holding a grudge is like building a wall between people and it is nearly impossible to have good relationships while a wall is there.

Can we remember that God does not keep a record of our wrongdoing?  When God forgives, the forgiveness is complete, tearing down any wall between us.  Because of this we revere God, and the lines of communication are completely open.  It takes courage to lay aside hatred and hurt and to respect the good in another person, especially an enemy.  David gives us an example of such courage to follow.

Now for the gospel story which shows us a little more about what Jesus is really like in his humanity and his divinity. And opens the way in a patriarchal society for the stories of un-named women of faith to be told.  Jesus travelled around and across the sea of Galilee and probably was at Capernaum when Jairus, the elected ruler of the local synagogue came to Jesus and humbly begged for his help for his sick daughter.  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” We can hear the anguish in his words.  We suddenly find Jesus caught in a situation that no one would wish. He is asked to go to minister to a seriously ill person, and on his way is sidetracked by another crisis. He had responded to Jairus but was delayed by a woman in need. One cannot imagine what the life of this woman would have been like, suffering from an incurable condition which caused her to bleed constantly would have made her ritually unclean and would have excluded her from most social contact, she would have led a life of rejection and isolation and she desperately wanted Jesus to heal her.  She knew that her bleeding would cause Jesus to be unclean under Jewish law if she touched him. She was in the depths of despair. In the depths of despair, the psalmist cried out to God.  Despair can cause a person to feel isolated and distant from God, at a time when we need God most.  When we feel overwhelmed, feeling sorry for ourselves will only increase feelings of hopelessness, but crying out to God will turn our attention to the only One who can really help.

Even so, in despair, this un-named and outcast woman reached out in faith and was healed.  Here we see a compassionate and patient Jesus.  Jesus was not angry that the woman had touched his garment, but stopped and asked who it did, to help her understand something about faith.  Although the woman was healed when she reached out, Jesus said her faith caused the cure.  Her physical healing was only the beginning.  Because Jesus knew that power had gone out of him, we may also presume that Jesus knew on whom his healing power was bestowed.  He could easily have identified her in the crowd, but he chose not to.  He waits until she summons her courage and confesses, then he tells her that it is her faith that has saved her.  It has done so on two counts.  First her conviction that only touching Jesus’ garment would bring her healing. And the second is her faith that overcomes her fear of being found out. She trusts the Lord.  Once she is revealed to the crowd as the one who caused the delay in Jesus’ journey to Jairus’s home, Jesus holds her up as an example of the power of faith that is available to everyone in the crowd. He speaks tenderly to her.  He said to her “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  The crowd is beginning to discover not only Jesus’ compassion but also the consequences of faith. If all have faith like her, all will be saved.  They will be delivered from what is burdening them and be free to “go in peace”, This is because faith brings a close relationship with God.

The delay caused by the woman’s healing is now part of Jairus’s story and a reason for him to trust Jesus when he is told his daughter had died.  Jairus would find himself in the depths of despair at the death of his dearest daughter. But Jesus says, “Do not fear, only believe” Jairus had faith in the beginning, but now his faith is still there but tested and he takes no notice of the crowd and lets Jesus continue. One cannot imagine how hard it would be for him to come home to find friends and neighbours wailing and crying because his daughter is dead. The sign of the power of faith is seen in the raising of the little girl.  Jesus turns what appears to outsiders as a delay and a too late arrival, into the reality of the power of faith.  Jesus never arrives too late for those who have faith and do not fear.  This story teaches us to be people of faith and courage, even though from our perspective we may seem to arrive too late or are unable to resolve a crisis.

The third story in our readings today is about awareness of our limitations. The Corinthian church excelled in everything. And they had planned to support the Jerusalem churches and are now urged to act on those plans.  When we love someone, we want to give them our time and attention and to provide for their needs.  This is exactly what Jesus did in compassionately meeting the needs of the un-named woman and Jairus, his wife and daughter.  Jesus revealed an aspect of God and his divinity, in showing patience and compassion. Can we give compassion and love in faith, and in faith, trust that the witness of our faith will be more powerful than the things we give?

These stories teach us that if we do what we can with courage and faith, God looks after the rest.  Amen.

 

The Reverend Canon Camellia Flanagan tssf

Hon Canon Pastor Christ Church Cathedral Grafton.

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