13th Sunday – B

Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mk 5:21-43

This true story illustrates God’s unfailing love for each of us.

On December 7, 1988 an earthquake devastated the northwestern section of Armenia, killing an estimated 25,000 persons. In one small town, directly after the earthquake, a father rushed to his son’s school only to find that the school had been flattened and there was no sign of life.

But he had no thought of turning back. He had often told his son, “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you when you need me!”

Though the prospects appeared hopeless, he began feverishly removing rubble from where he believed his son’s classroom had been. Other forlorn parents only wailed hopelessly. “My son!” “My daughter!” Some told the father to go home, that there was no chance that any of the pupils could be alive. To which this loving father replied, “I made my son a promise that I’d be there for him anytime he needed me. I must continue to dig.”

Courageously, he proceeded alone. No one volunteered to help him. He simply had to know for himself: “Is my boy alive or is he dead?”

With strength and endurance beyond himself, the faithful, loving father continued to dig… for 8 hours… for 12 hours… 24 hours… 36 hours. Then in the 38th hour, as he heaved away a heavy piece of rubble, he heard voices. “Armand!” he screamed.

A child’s voice responded: “Dad! It’s me,… Armand!” Then, “I told the other kids not to worry. I told ’em that if you were alive, you’d save me, and when you saved me, they’d be saved. You promised you would always be there for me! You did it, Dad!”

Moments later, the dad was helping his son Armand and 13 other frightened, hungry, thirsty boys and girls climb out of the debris. Free at last! When the building collapsed, these children had been spared in a tent-like pocket. The father lovingly carried his son home to his mother, where he was given the care he needed.

When the townspeople praised Armand’s dad, his explanation was, “I promised my son, ‘No matter what, I’ll be there for you!'”

In today’s Gospel we have what is often called a “Markan sandwich”. One story is encased or sandwiched between the beginning and end of another. Here, we have an unusual combination of two miracle stories, one contained within the other – a healing, and a restoration of life.  The story of the woman with the flow of blood interrupts and is sandwiched in between the two parts of the account of Jairus and his daughter.

The stories have several common features.  One woman is 12 years old, and the other has suffered for 12 years.  Both are called “daughter,” and both are in need of physical healing.  The girl’s father is encouraged to have Faith, and the older woman is praised for her Faith.  The two stories illustrate Jesus’ power over both chronic illness and death. In each healing, Jesus shows his marvelous generosity by giving the recipients life and salvation in addition to physical healing.

All of us experience trials of faith – how do we fare? Our faith is tried through sickness or death.  Faith can be tried through the pain of unemployment. If we lose our job or cannot find work does it destroy our faith? Faith can be tested through problem and broken relationships. Does the separation of friends, the pain of divorce, or rejection in love prompt us to say I can’t go on, or does our trial of faith lead us to greater independence and allow us to feel better about ourselves? Can we say that God loves us?

Do you realize that God, the Heavenly Father, is in the rescue business? He has gone to great effort to rescue you and me from a terrible plight.

The Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We all have had trials of faith. Can we accept the trial, persevere, and grow in the process, as did the Armenian father, Jairus the father of the 12-year-old and the woman who suffered for 12 years did? Let us triumph over the trials of our life and be strengthened by our faith.

God reaches out to rescue us. To be saved, we must respond and believe in Him, confessing to Him that you have sinned and want His forgiveness. This act brings you into His family forever. John 1:12 says that all who receive Him and believe in Him “become children of God.”

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