Sometimes I just marvel at the way St. Mark puts his Gospel together.Mark is the first of the Gospels to be written. He wrote his Gospel during a period deep trouble and strife. Rome had been burnt down in 64 AD, and Mark’s mentor, the apostle Peter, was crucified in 65AD. Paul was also beheaded in 67AD and early church had been blamed for the destruction of the city. Given this background, most commentators say that the Gospel’s function was to provide encouragement and help to Christians who were suffering and to build up their faith in Christ who was ever-present to them.
So, last Sunday we had the calming of the storm. The question Jesus asked his apostles was: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” Next Sunday finds Jesus in his hometown, where he could not do any miracle because of their lack of faith.
This Sunday, Mark relates what does happen when people have faith in Jesus. A woman is cured of a hemorrhage which has afflicted her for 12 years and was facing a lifetime of hopelessness. Being ritually impure, she was therefore excluded from worship and society. Twelve? Sure Twelve represents Biblical completeness: 12 tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, the heavenly Jerusalem’s 12 gates. This is Mark’s way of saying that he was writing for the entire church, not just a select few.
Then Mark writes about the faith of Jarius, who asks Jesus to heal his dying daughter. How old was she? Twelve. Just have faith, Jesus tells Jarius; ignore the ridicule of the crowd.
By way of footnote, this coming Saturday is Independence Day. These days we need a lot of encouragement and help or faith if you will to hope that our founders’ original dreams for the 12 (there’s that number again) colonies will come true. We’re caught in stormy times may God grant us peace.
Show your faith be God’s smile for someone today!