Mark 5:35

Before he had finished speaking, some people from the house of the synagogue leader came and said, “Your daughter is dead! Why should you trouble the teacher further?”


Charlie Brown’s football
has been yanked away
one more trusting time

he had his eye on it
all through an approach
it was there and then wasn’t

who can explain it
this brief distraction
away from someday soon

give it up pack it in
comes too easily to mind
we are caught all or nothing

binaries give up too easily
our servants dare command
tempted we listen and stop


As abruptly as Jairus showed up on the scene to claim Jesus’ “power” to heal, Jesus’ blessing of a woman with twelve tribes worth of blood loss is preempted. Leadership has its privileges and interrupting is one of its perks.

In whatever amount of time it took for the woman to tell her truth, the unnamed daughter died (people do know what death is and are seldom fooled) and men of Jairus’ household were sent and arrived to tell him their tale of woe and a healing quest that failed.

In a shame and blame culture that lingers to this day in every part of the world, the connection to Jesus’ stopping to attend to an unclean woman when he could be saving the life of a not-yet unclean girl cannot have gone unnoticed.

As the message is relayed to Jairus, we can imagine a small word or two escaping: “If only you had been able to be a few minutes quicker in arriving…”, “What took you so long?” Just enough hints to have folks begin to turn toward Jesus. How could he make such a choice? Isn’t a child automatically worth more than anyone else?

Here we bump into the limits of our vision. We are willing to ask for healing/saving (remember they are the same word in Greek) for temporal illness—for cutting the illness short—healing as an over-the-counter drug to deal with the symptom of illness while it runs its course. We don’t quite know how to ask for saving/healing in the presence of death.

While Jarius is hearing this news, what of Jesus and the woman and their interrupted blessing? Did it continue? Is it still continuing and including everyone in an ever-widening grace?

2 thoughts on “Mark 5:35”

  1. “…unclean woman…not-yet unclean girl…” (third paragraph of reflection on Mark 5:35)

    I’ve learned not to laugh at the ignorance of the authors of the holy bible, and I’ve also learned that to ignore ignorance is perilous, indeed.

  2. Our demand for meaning too easily resolves into momentary distinctions that live long beyond their time and place. Pretty soon we can only see what at best was a prior glimpse. Soon another link in a purity code is forged and shapes our behavior around a speculation or thought experiment that escaped its laboratory setting to run amok through the lives of innocents yet unborn.

    For word players: “ignorance” seems to go back to Latin in-gnoscere (not knowing) where the prefix in- means “not”. This contrasts with the alternative use of in- meaning in, into, toward (toward knowing). Here then is an important life choice not- (avoidance) or toward- (attraction). And so we bounce through our own story of avoiding and advancing its various parts in a grand quest of having a piece of wisdom to enact in a given situation. It ends up we need a lot of grace for the inevitable wrong call that pre-judged actions lead to.

    Thanks for your comment, I’m interested to hear more about what you have learned about bearding the lion of ignorance in its own setting (http://www.word-detective.com/2010/07/beard-to/).

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