With unanimous support, tourist destinations across the world are passing pro-business legislation and anti-panhandling laws. Our fair city, they argue, doesn’t want to fund addiction or encourage laziness, comprise public safety or intimidate pedestrians, enable poverty or deplete social programs. One downtown resident went further saying, “I don’t like being pestered by those people, don’t want to be bothered for money on my street corner”
In our Gospel text, Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman are bothered by the infirmities of death and blood, and both are desperate for relief.
What does healing require?
Mark 5:21-43 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 wailing 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 cum,” 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.
Having faith in God, even if you’ve tried every other option.
Being included back into the community of wholeness after a life of being deemed unclean.
Refusing to be overlooked by God.
Pursuing God the same way God pursues us.
Thomas Long tells the story of a father and son who went jogging in an urban neighborhood. The son was a seminary student, and the father was an inner-city pastor. About halfway into their run, they decided to phone ahead for a pizza to be delivered when they got home. As they stopped at a public pay phone, a homeless man approached them, asking if they had any spare change. The father reached into the pockets of his sweatpants and pulled out two handfuls of coins. “Here,” he said to the homeless man. “Take what you need.” The homeless man, hardly believing his good fortune, said, “I’ll take it all.” He scooped the coins into his own hands and turned to go on his way. A moment later, the father realized he had no change for the phone. “Pardon me,” he said to the homeless man. “I need to make a call. Can you spare some change?”
Still, regardless of our poverty or privilege, most of us would rather die than ask for help.
What does healing require?
In Mark, faith is defined by what you’re willing to do to get to Jesus. Lose your religion, cling to a cloak, fall at his feet, beg on your knees like the leper and the Syrophoenician mother, beg like blind Bartimaeus and the hemorrhaging woman, beg like Jairus?
Street siblings, begging is the public witness that we can’t save ourselves, the urgent beseeching of God to offer what we can’t offer ourselves, the spiritual solicitation of mercy.
And in the City of God, every citizen is called to be a beggar, flying cardboard signs and clanking rusty cups at the Christ who wills nothing more than to be bothered by where we’re bleeding out, to be hustled into our back rooms of death, to be panhandled in his name.
Let us pray: O’ God, you provoke the proud and bless the beggar. Give us over to the healing of humility as we follow your homeless Son to the street corners of your kingdom.