Sunday Sermon at St Paul’s by Revd Revd Sabelo Mthimkhulu 27 June 2021

I guess almost all of us here are familiar with the story of the bleeding woman in today’s gospel reading.

She is not only struggling with an incurable disease, but she has an illness that carries social stigma.

In ancient time, blood was only considered clean when inside the body, once it is out it was considered unclean (remember the story of a Good Samaritan in Luke 10? The priest walks pass the attacked man because he is bleeding “He is unclean”)

The same happens to this woman, she is bleeding “She is unclean” and therefore does not deserve to be with her community, she is excluded from her own community.

Quite a number of us are marked with similar stigma of our time.

Stigma associated with depression, Corona, HIV, being a victim of sexual or physical abuse, poverty, unemployment (you name them…)

Poverty and Unemployment?

Yes, you heard me correctly

Few days weeks ago, a community of KwaHlathi in Ladysmith, woke up every morning to go and mine what they thought was going set them free from poverty.

“I have managed to get 5 diamonds, finally me and my children will be out of poverty”, these are the words on one of the women interviewed on site.

People are hungry to be healed from the disease of poverty.

They have hope, that one day the salvation of the Lord will come (which the writer of Lamentation writes about)

The frustration of this nameless women is not foreign to some of us.

She has spent almost everything on doctors trying to find healing, but still nothing, her only hope now is coming BEHIND Jesus and grasping his clothes.

NOTE: She comes BEHIND Jesus, she doesn’t face him, face to face.

If we like this woman, are weak and vulnerable

Whose cloak can we grasp?

Is there any way out of the stigma, vulnerability, and weaknesses we carry?

If the story of this nameless woman is the story of many of us

Is there healing for us too?

 

The story of the nameless women is sandwiched in-between the healing story of another female (a young girl). As much as this young lady (12-year-old) also appears to be nameless, but unlike the first women, she is associated with a powerful man, she is Jairus’ daughter.

The young girl is 12 years, the woman has been ill for 12 years. Could this be a coincidence, Maybe Yes, but I also think Mark is trying to make us connects some dots (which we will try to do in about a minute).

The young girl and the woman are connected but the fact that there are both considered “Unclean” and therefore untouchable, but surprisingly Jesus seems to break those barriers and touch both of them.

As much as there are these similarities between these two, but they are also different. They come from opposite ends of the social hierarchy. The young girl is the daughter to the ruler of the synagogue, in other words, she is privileged because her father is wealthy and has a social status. Whereas on the other hand, the woman is vulnerable, she has probably used all the money she had to pay physicians who failed to heal her.

But I said Mark wants us to also connect some dots.

In Judaism, 12 is the number of the tribes of Israel. So, these stories could also be read as stories of Israel and its healing. Marks could be using these two stories to highlights Jesus’ ministry to Israel.

Mark begins these narratives with Jairus coming straight (INFROUNT) to Jesus, He is a man, a wealthy synagogue ruler, he is quite influential and would mind disturbing Jesus. While on the other hand, the nameless woman, comes to Jesus from BEHIND, she is a woman, she has a stigma attached to her, she is excluded from the community and all she wants to do is to touch Jesus’ cloak (not to disturb him).

Due to her gender and uncleanliness, even grasping Jesus’ cloak is inappropriate. Her in appropriate act of faith, catches Jesus’ attention, Jesus doesn’t rebuke her, but what he instead does, is to delay his journey to Jairus’ house and listens to her as she shares her story frightened and trembling.

He gives he a status, he doesn’t call her “woman” but calls her “daughter”,

“Daughter, your faith has healed you” He says.

While Jesus deals with this nameless woman, news comes that the girl has died.

While Jesus focuses on the poor women, a rich person has “died”

If he hadn’t “wasted” time with the poor old sick woman, he would have been in time to save the rich.

But Jesus seems to be in time for both the woman and young girl, he is also there to heal the “dead” girl. This is a lesson for all Israel, all Israel is sick, it is in a status of death, and it’s healing and liberation will only come when the poor is attended first. Its healing will come when the least is attended first.

Can we as the body of Christ also learn something from these narratives?

Maybe we like Jesus we can turn and attentively listen to those nameless victims.

Lamentation says “For No one is cast off, by the Lord forever”

God will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.

God’s unfailing Love, will redeem us,

God’s unfailing love will redeem those stigmatised and casted out of their communities

God’s unfailing love will set us free from poverty.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are invited to this unfailing Love this morning

We are invited as the Church into turning around and listen.

It is listening that we will meet God’s redeeming unfailing love

It is in listening that we can hear Jesus’ proclaiming

Rise up. Go in peace. Your faith has healed you.

And we will go out of our affections and griefs, singing the praises of the Lord forever.

 

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account:   Account Name: St Paul’s Church   Account Number: 50854628623  Bank: First National Bank (FNB)     Branch Code: 221426