Great Faith

Scripture Reading

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.

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 him,
“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.
(Mark 5:21-43)


Scripture Study

5:21–43 Two miracle stories connected chronologically and thematically. Both highlight Jesus’ power over physical sickness (5:29, 42) and his favorable response to faith (5:23, 34, 36; CCC 548, 2616). The accounts are also linked by the figure twelve years, which represents the duration of the woman’s illness (5:25) and the age of the young girl (5:42).

5:23 lay your hands on her: Often in the Gospels Jesus responds to the persistent pleas of parents whose children are suffering or in danger (7:25–30; 9:17–27; Mt 17:14–18; Jn 4:46–54). His mercy touches these distressed parents whenever they turn to him in faith. Jesus also displays a deep affection for children (10:13–16; Mt 18:5–6).

5:25 a flow of blood: A condition that makes the woman and everything she touches legally unclean (Lev 15:25–30).

5:37 Peter … James … John: Three of Jesus’ closest disciples, who were also present with him at the Transfiguration (9:2) and in the garden of Gethsemane (14:33). They are likewise the only apostles Jesus renamed: Simon became “Peter”, which means “rock”, while James and John were called “Boanerges”, which means “sons of thunder” (3:16–17).

5:39 not dead but sleeping: Biblical writers often speak of “sleep” as a euphemism for biological death (Mt 27:52; Jn 11:11; 1 Cor 15:6). Jesus uses this description to emphasize that the girl’s condition is only temporary and reversible.

5:41 Talitha cumi: One of several Aramaic expressions preserved in Mark (7:11, 34; 14:36; 15:22, 34). He regularly translates these expressions for his non-Jewish readers in Rome.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, the centerpiece of today’s Gospel is Jesus healing the hemorrhaging woman. Having a flow of blood for twelve years meant that anyone with whom she came in contact would be considered unclean. She couldn’t, in any meaningful sense, participate in the ordinary life of her society.

The woman touches Jesus—and how radical and dangerous an act this was, since it should have rendered Jesus unclean. But so great is her faith, that her touch, instead, renders her clean. Jesus effectively restores her to full participation in her community.

But what is perhaps most important is this: Jesus implicitly puts an end to the ritual code of the book of Leviticus. What he implies is that the identity of the new Israel, the Church, would not be through ritual behaviors but through imitation of him. Notice, please, how central this is in the New Testament. We hear elsewhere in the Gospels that Jesus declares all foods clean, and throughout the letters of Paul we hear a steady polemic against the Law. All of this is meant to show that Jesus is at the center of the new community.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 


[1]  Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 74.