6th Sunday After Pentecost, July 1, 2018
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tomorrow is a big day for a little girl in Greencastle named Sophie. Sophie is the 5-and-a-half-year-old daughter of Rachelâ€™s friend Keri. Sophie was born with several heart defects, which must be corrected. Tomorrow, Sophie has the first of her surgeries, and of course, her parents are anxious. Which parent wouldnâ€™t be?
Our prayers for Sophie and other children like her are for healing and wellness and most of all peace, the peace that only God can give.
In our gospel lesson for today, we have the story of two healings. Not just any healings, but the healings of two persons, marginalized by their own people. Marginalized meaning that they were considered expendable by their society by virtue of the fact of having been born female in a Patriarchal society. This lesson follows Jesusâ€™ casting out of a demon from a man into a herd of swine. This was done in Gentile territory and it had frightened the Gentiles so that they ask him to leave.
Now he is back in Jewish territory, and the first person he encounters is Jairus, a leader in the synagogue.
Jairus begs Jesus to heal his daughter who is 12 years old and is ill. She is so ill, in fact, that she is at the point of death. It is Jesusâ€™ intention to go along with Jairus, but a large crowd presses in on Jesus.
In the crowd is a woman who has had a hemorrhage for 12 years. She is tired of being ill, and she is tired of doctors who cannot cure her, as well as a society which isolates her as a person who is unclean. No one can go near her or touch her without becoming unclean themselves, so she is pushed to the margins of society and treated like a nobody. She hears about the wonders that Jesus performs and says to herself, â€œIf I can just touch his clothes, I know I will be made well.â€ She does this and immediately feels the hemorrhage has stopped.
Jesus feels the power gone out of him and says, â€œWho touched my clothes?â€ His disciples think heâ€™s a bit nuts for asking because there is such a large crowd around him. The woman comes to him and confesses to him that it was she. Jesus says to her, â€œGo in peace. Be healed. Your faith has made you well.â€
While he is engaged in the crowd and with the woman, people come to tell Jairus, the Synagogue official that he neednâ€™t trouble Jesus anymore, that his daughter has died.
Jesus says to Jairus, â€œDo not fear, only believe.â€ They go to the house of Jairus and his family and the people are weeping and wailing. Jesus asks them why they are crying, because the girl is not dead, just sleeping. The reaction of the crowd is one of faithlessness. They laugh at Jesus. He puts everyone out of the house except for the parents and three of his disciples. They go into her room and Jesus takes her by the hand and says to the girl, â€œTalitha Cum,â€ meaning, â€œLittle girl, get up!â€ And she immediately gets up and begins to walk.
Two miracles for two marginalized people, whom Jesus heals.
Jesus breaks down the barriers that divide people. The little girl was 12 years old. She was not only marginalized by her society because of being female but also because she was a child. To marginalize someone is to shut them out, â€œto trivialize their worth and their feelings, to alienate them, to disenfranchise them, to discriminate against them.â€
Websterâ€™s Dictionary says: â€œto relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a group or societyâ€ and the Oxford Dictionary defines it as â€œtreating someone as insignificant.â€
This is a big teaching moment for Jesus.Â He is tearing down the wall of the Law that the Pharisees and Sadducees had put up. They had so regulated life in the community by interpreting, reinterpreting, and compounding the Laws, especially the laws of purity and ritual cleanness, that people were often pushed to the margins of society, and considered unclean, or classes citizens. Children were of no consequence, especially females.
The males would reach maturity and then they would have status. For the girls, there was nothing until they could marry, which was at a very young age. Even then they would have little status, except as property of their husbands.
The woman with the hemorrhage was ritually unclean, all the time. So, no one could touch her because then they would be tainted too. She suffered alone and in silence for many years. The doctors tried in vain but could not help her. Finally, Jesus comes along, and she is healed because of her faith in his power. Once she touched him, he became unclean. Then he goes and touches a dead girl and becomes doubly unclean. It makes no difference to her parents, they just rejoice that their daughter, their beloved child is not dead. Which one of us cannot sympathize with them?
Which one of us cannot imagine what it would feel like to worry about your child being taken away from you? We know how her parents felt.
Of course, the officials of the Jews will just use this against Jesus. It doesnâ€™t matter to Jesus. He is crossing boundaries, breaking down barriers, because itâ€™s what he does. He brings healing and salvation to all people. He proclaims his liberating word to all people. He frees all people.
This week we celebrate the July 4th holiday, the day that we celebrate our liberty, our freedom.
This holiday celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which by the way, wasnâ€™t until August 2, 1776. In that document, we read: â€œWe hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humanity is created equal, that they are endowed by God their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.â€ All of humanity shares in these ideals. What this means is that no one deserves to be marginalized.
Look around you today. We marginalize people all the time. We marginalize the young, and we marginalize the elderly, especially the frail elderly. We are all a part of Godâ€™s creation, created equal in his sight. Imagine what it makes God feel when we treat others as insignificant, or we trivialize their feelings, or treat them like they donâ€™t count or matter.
Jesus breaks down the barriers that divide so that we get the example that in Godâ€™s kingdom, all of creation counts. All people are precious and belong to God the creator of all. You are precious.
Those around you are precious, and those people out there in the world are precious. No person is ever little to God, or trivial to God, or insignificant to God.
We are called as believers in Christ Jesus, to break down the barriers that divide us from one another. We are called by Christ and his example to treat one another respectfully, because every living thing, every living creature is Godâ€™s and is precious to God, having been created in Godâ€™s image.
As we celebrate our freedom this week, let us remember that we can never be truly free while one of Godâ€™s children is suffering and oppressed. Remember that no one is insignificant to God.
Let us strive to cross the barriers that separate us and truly bring healing and wholeness again. May God help us to be compassionate people.
In His name,Â Amen.