Week of 4 Epiphany: Tuesday, Year 1   15 comments

Above:  Christ Healing a Bleeding Woman

Let Us Lay Shame Aside and Emulate Jesus

JANUARY 31, 2017

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Hebrews 12:1-4 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Psalm 22:22-30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

22 Praise the LORD, you that fear him;

stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;

all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.

23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;

neither does he hide his face from them;

but when they cry to him he hears them.

24 My praise is of him in the great assembly;

I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,

and those who seek the LORD shall praise him:

“May your heart love for ever!”

26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,

and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.

27 For kingship belongs to the LORD;

he rules over the nations.

28 To him alone who sleep in the earth bow down in worship;

all who go down to the dust fall before him.

29 My soul shall live for him;

my descendants shall serve him;

they shall be known as the LORD’s for ever.

30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn

the saving deeds that he has done.

Mark 5:21-43 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea.  Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at this feet, and begged him, saying,

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.

And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.  And there was a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.  She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.  For she said,

If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.

And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.  And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said,

Who touched my garments?

And his disciples said to him,

You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, “Who touched me?”

And he looked around to see who had done it.  But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.  And 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, there came fro the ruler’s house some who said,

Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the Teacher any further?

But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue,

Do not fear, only believe.

And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.  When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly.  And when he had entered, he said to them,

Why do you make a tumult and weep?  The child is not dead but sleeping.

And they laughed at him.  But 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.  Taking her by the hand he said to her,

Talitha cumi;

which means,

Little girl, I say to you, arise.

And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old.  And immediately they were overcome with amazement.  And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness; as in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.  Every bed on which she lies; all the days of her discharge, shall be to her the bed of impurity; and everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her impurity.  And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening….

–Leviticus 15:25-27 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition)

This was the woman’s condition in the reading from Mark.  Her physical problem, which the doctors she visited could not remedy, made her a social outcast and rendered her destitute.  This was cruelest element of her condition, and it had more to do with how others understood her (and therefore treated her) than with her medical state.  The power of culture is pervasive, but only as widespread as we permit it to be.  We could choose to be merely kind human beings, if we wanted to do so.  But no, often we go with the flow, join in group behavior, and find ways to justify cruelty to our fellow human beings.  We might not even recognize the cruelty of which we are guilty.

But Jesus was kind.  He healed her physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  And he restored her to society.  We are social creatures, so the opinions of our peers matter to us and affect us.  May we emulate Jesus, not this woman’s peers.

Consider the following, the paragraph on Total Depravity from A Brief Statement of Belief (1962), of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the old “Southern” Presbyterian Church:

Sin permeates and corrupts our entire being and burdens us more and more with fear, hostility, guilt, and misery.  Sin operates not only within individuals but also within society as a deceptive and oppressive power, so that even men of good will are unconsciously and unwillingly involved in the sins of society.  Man cannot destroy the tyranny of sin in himself or in his world; his only hope is to be delivered from it by God.

This is true, is it not?

Wrapped around the tale of the woman with a menstrual hemorrhage is the story of a desperate father.  His twelve-year-old daughter was severely ill.  But Jesus, Jairus was convinced, could heal her.  Before the two men could arrive, however, the daughter died.  “Why trouble the teacher any further?” some wondered after this development.  But the woman with the hemorrhage did not trouble Jesus, and neither did the situation with the daughter of Jairus.

Here I place my second emphasis.  Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  He had compassion for people.  True, even he needed to get away for quiet time, as we have read already in Mark.  Yet he did not mind the woman with a hemorrhage or Jairus coming to him.  This was not without a physical cost to himself, but he paid it without complaint.  Here is one worthy of the label “Savior.”

I detect a third theme, one focused on blood.  In the Law of Moses the feminine discharge of blood renders one (and objects with which one comes into contact) unclean and impure.  Yet, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews alludes, the death and resurrection of Jesus changes everything.  The execution of Jesus was supposed to bring about shame (shame being a societal concept, not anything inherent to an individual) upon Jesus, but the crucifixion of Jesus became his exaltation in the Gospel of John.  In Christian sacramental theology blood has become something desirable, under the transubstantiated cover of wine.  Where then, is the shame associated with blood?

So I encourage you, O reader, to rejoice in the examples of Jesus and of the saints of who gone on before you.  We stand in the midst of a great cloud of witnesses, including that woman Jesus healed, Jairus, and (hopefully) his daughter.  They are neither foolish nor impure, and they are not really dead.  They are our family members in faith.  May we join their company one day.

Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

Where love is found to be authentic, God is there.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/let-us-lay-shame-aside-and-emulate-jesus/

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