|Memorial, St. Agatha, Virgin
2 Samuel 18:9-10, 14, 24-25, 30--19:3
Psalm 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
My first reaction to today’s readings, especially the text from Samuel, was compassion. One cannot help but feel David’s pain. Not only did he have to deal with the pain of a rebellious son, he also had to contend with his death. David must have been filled with the conflicting emotions of anger, grief, and, perhaps even guilt. He must have wondered how things might have been different. In today’s first reading, David, though a king is like all fathers. Raising children is risky business and all of us who are parents run the risk of suffering because of our love for them. Compassion for David and all who suffer as he did is an appropriate response to this reading.
Mark’s narrative is different. In it we encounter another father who loves his child enough to seek out Jesus and ask for healing. Jairus’ sorrow is reversed when Jesus heals the child. Most readings of this story focus on Jesus’ power to heal and its relationship to faith. Hence, the story of the hemorrhaging woman of faith is inserted between the two parts of the narrative about Jairus’ daughter. The faith and Jairus and the faith of the woman were factors in the healings that Jesus gave to them. Any parent who has sat by the bed of a very sick child understands how great the relief of Jairus and his wife must have been.
For some reason though, I still feel sorry for David. Let’s
face it, many people who have faith have experiences that more closely
resemble those of David than those of Jairus. Suffering continues,
loss continues, even though we believe and know that Jesus heals. Mark
does not say this, but clearly there were many parents in Israel with sick
children who Jesus did not heal. As much as I rejoice over the healing
of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of any child, I am taking something
else away from this reading today. Buried in Mark’s narrative
is the line “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.” We must not
be afraid either for ourselves or for our children. The Lord will care
for us and for them even if our experience is more akin to David than Jairus.
Healing takes many forms and is not always what we anticipate. Let
us pray to day for all parents who suffer because of love for their children.
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