Naaman the Syrian was a great commander in the army and he had a big personal problem; he suffered from a virulent skin-disease. One of his slave girls said to her mistress if only he would approach the prophet Elisha he could be cured. The mistress told Naaman and he sent to the King of Israel many thousand of talents of silver and gold and asked to see the prophet. Naaman pulled up to Elisha’s house in his chariot with his entourage. And Elisha sent out a messenger to tell him, ‘Bathe seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will become clean.’ Naaman was indignant that the prophet did not come himself and wave his and over the spot and cure him. And that in his country there were many more beautiful rivers, and he went off in a rage. The servants approached him and said, if he had asked you to do something difficult you would have done it, so why not do something easy? So Naaman went and immersed himself seven times and his skin was once more like a child’s.
Jairus, the president of the synagogue in the Gospel of Mark 5: 21-43, is very different from Naaman, at least at first blush. Jairus, the leader of a synagogue, goes and falls at the feet of Christ and begs him, ‘Come and lay your hands on my daughter that she may live.’ He comes with great humility and he falls as the feet of Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel he bows low in front of Jesus, which a Jew could only do in front of God. At this request Jesus goes off with him and a large crowd follows.
Now then a woman comes from behind, who has been bleeding for twelve years (twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles) and she is a type, a figure of Israel. For a woman at the time she could not leave her house if she was bleeding. Blood for a Jew was a sign of life and a woman bleeding for twelve years, or one day, was ritually impure. But she sees an opportunity and she knows that only one thing will help her: to touch not even his person but the tassel of his cloak. She does so and at once she was cured. She takes a huge risk since she could have been killed for touching anyone while she was bleeding. But she jumps and touches him. Also the tassel for the Jews is a reminder of the Law and how a good Jew knows that at times he can stray from the Law and needs to be bound to it.
Jesus doesn’t let her go unnoticed. He calls out to discern who touched me. The apostles thought he was insane since so many people were touching him. And the woman came forward, trembling and falls at his feet. She’s deathly afraid. And Jesus says, ‘My daughter, your faith has saved you!!
And the Gospel continues when people come from the house of Jairus and announce your daughter is dead. Jesus goes in among all the commotion of the mourners and says the child is not dead, but asleep, and they ridiculed him. Of course she was dead but for a Christian death is a falling asleep until the Lord comes to wake us. Jesus says to her, ‘Talitha kum!’, ‘Little girl, get up.’ It is one of the few words recorded in Aramaic by Mark who heard it from Peter and perhaps never forgot the way it was said. And the girl gets up. Jesus sets her free from death, and also us. It is a great sign or Sacrament for all of Israel, and for us, he raises her, and us, for himself. Rejoice everyone since this Gospel is alive for us today, and tells us to ‘get up!’ Don’t be trapped by any fear or anxiety or concern, get up, the Lord is calling you!