Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2 Cor 8:7,9,13-15; Mk 5:21-43
This week I was remembering visiting a church in another diocese when I was on vacation. I was turning into the church driveway, I couldn’t help but notice a large electronic sign board, flashing a message in multi colors. It said: “Pray 4 Nick.” I also noticed blue ribbons attached to light poles in the parking lot and on doorknobs and handles inside the church. When I was leaving, a woman who was entering, asked me “What are all the blue ribbons for?” I said: “There must be an explanation somewhere.” Sure enough, I noticed a picture of a little boy displayed in the narthex. He was about 8. It was Nick. It was a request for prayers for Nick who was recovering from brain surgery. His favorite color was blue. This prayer blast was a total parish event.
As I was driving away, it hit me; it’s like this weekend’s gospel. This urgent parish prayer drive, storming heaven, seemed like the urgent plea of this father Jairus and of the woman with the hemorrhage. All three demonstrate urgent need. The request on behalf of Nick was all dressed up and decked out in digital flashiness to underscore the depth of neediness. But, digital electronics or not, the need, spanning two millennia is the same in all three cases. In fact, the account by Mark sandwiches the story of the woman in between the story of Jairus’ little girl. Each story demonstrates intense need. The two stories, taken together, manifest double intensification to illustrate how widespread such neediness was. The story of Nick tells us it still is!
All three reveal characters at their limits. Jairus, the woman and the parish community know there are things beyond their power. We call this powerlessness or helplessness. We need a power beyond our own — a higher power, the power of God, the healing power of Christ. “Lay your hands upon her that she may get well and live.” “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
We all know the feelings of helplessness, of being brought to our knees. Much of post-modern life masks our neediness from ourselves. Sometimes our electronics make us feel powerful. In the story of “Pray 4 Nick,” it reminds us of how much we – like Jairus’ daughter, like the woman – need the healing touch of Christ. “Say but the word, and my soul shall be healed.”