26 January 2016Mark 5:21-43
“Who touched me?” (v. 31)
Psalm: Psalm 21:1-7
The people for whom this healing story was first written down would have known very clearly what it meant that the woman had been haemorrhaging for 12 years. Jewish legal codes separated a menstruating woman from social interaction and corporate worship for several days every month. So they would have isolated this woman for over a decade.
Jairus was one of the leaders of the local synagogue. This made him not just an important community figure. It's also possible that he would have been involved in enforcing the woman's ritual isolation: keeping her 'outside'.
But it's the woman - determined to act surreptitiously and then melt away - whom Jesus makes the centre of his attention and the centre of the story.
The woman and the girl are linked through the story - both are called 'daughter'; the phrase 12 years is used of both (verses 25, 42); both have a moment of physical contact with Jesus - Jesus is touched by the woman (verse 27), and he takes the girl's hand (verse 41). These are both 'polluting' moments of physical contact, since both blood and corpses were understood to be unclean.
It's as if the story itself reflects Jesus' work, here and throughout the Gospels, in reconnecting those 'inside' and 'outside' the community - and at the same time, blurring the boundaries between what constitutes 'in' and 'out' in any community of faith.
- Between all the claims on you, some prominent and obvious, others more hidden, how do you discern where your attention should be directed?
- Should there be boundaries to a community of faith, marking 'in' and 'out'? How clear or blurred should they be?