February 3, 2015

Gospel MK 5:21-43
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.
I cannot recall an incident in the new testament where Jesus ever inserted himself into someone’s life to perform a miraculous healing.
The same holds true in today’s gospel stories. Both, the synagogue official whose daughter was dying and the woman suffering from hemorrhages, reached out to Jesus for help.
Jesus was and always is ready and willing to heal, but he never inserts himself into another person’s life.
At My Brother’s Keeper, we have learned this important lesson from Jesus’ example, as well as from years of experience.
We will respond to anyone who “seeks”assistance but we do not intrude on a person’s privacy.
Over the years, there have been many occasions when well intended people including family members, religious and non-profit groups, as well as individuals in recovery have called and told us about someone who needed our help.
Our response is always the same: “No problem! Just have the person give us a call. We’ll be happy to help them.”
More often than not, the response of the well intentioned caller is: “Oh, they would never call for help themselves. Can’t you just call them?”
As gently as possible, we repeat: “No, we don’t insert ourselves into people’s lives, we don’t intrude on people’s privacy. However, we’ll be delighted to help if they call us.”
We have learned the hard way to apply the lessons of the gospel through life experiences.
I remember an incident in the early days of My Brother’s Keeper when I responded to the pleas of a distraught mother who was upset that her son and granddaughter were sleeping on the floor. I called the young man and offered our help only to be rebuffed with remarks about his “meddling mother.”
And, another incident when a well meaning religious pleaded with me to bring living room furniture to a family who was watching a small television while sitting on the floor. The woman who answered the door told me indignantly that she had furniture on lay-a-way and had no need of our help.
In the gospel of Matthew 7:7, Jesus tells us, “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
So, like Jesus, we “respond” to the cry of the poor, but we are not intrusive.