31 January. Tuesday, Week 4

Saint John Bosco, priest

1st Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4

Around us a cloud of witnesses, and above all Jesus, to encourage us

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

Jesus cures the bleeding woman and restores the twelve year old daughter of Jairus

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “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.” So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and waiing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha kum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


The questions he asks

Jesus asks many questions in the four gospels. It can sometimes be worthwhile to notice the questions he asks and to sit with them. Today the gospel has one of those questions, “Who touched me?” The disciples found this a very strange thing to ask, “You see the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”” The disciples were saying, “how can you ask that question; there are dozens of people touching you.” Yet, Jesus knew that one person touched him in a way that was not different. Many people were brushing up against him; one person took the initiative to make personal contact with him. When Jesus discovered who it was, he said to her, “your faith has restored you to health.” The woman was seeking him out in a way that was not true of others who were around him. The Lord is always passing by; he is always among us. Sometimes we can brush up against him without paying him much attention. The woman shows us the value of a very personal and very deliberate reaching out towards the Lord. The gospel reading suggests that this is how we will experience his life-giving presence in our lives.

Asking for his help

In today’s gospel, two people approach Jesus for help. One was a synagogue official named Jairus, a person of some standing in the community, who approached Jesus very publicly on behalf of his dying daughter. The other was a nameless woman who would have been excluded from the synagogue because of her condition and who approached Jesus very privately on her own behalf, discreetly touching the hem of his garment. For all their differences, these two people had something in common. Their need was great, and they approached Jesus in their need. They also shared a great trust in the power of Jesus to bring life where there was death. Faith in the Lord can bring together people who otherwise might have very little else in common. The church, the community of believers, is very diverse. All of humanity is there. The gospel reading also suggests that the Lord wants to engage with each one of us in our uniqueness. He wants a personal relationship with each of us. That is why he wanted to meet the woman who touched the hem of his cloak. He needed to look into her eyes, to talk to her, to confirm her faith that led her to him. The woman who wanted to be anonymous found herself addressed by Jesus as “my daughter.” The Lord calls each of us by name; he relates to us as the unique individual that we are.

Saint John Bosco, priest

Giovanni Bosco (1815-1888) was an Italian priest and educator devoted to the care and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and the disadvantaged youth in Turin. He developed modern teaching methods, based on personal, loving care rather than on punishment and founded the teaching order of the Salesians.


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