BREAKING THE RULES

PRACTISING PATIENCE!
June 13, 2024
Death or Peace – Standing at the Crossroads
June 28, 2024
PRACTISING PATIENCE!
June 13, 2024
Death or Peace – Standing at the Crossroads
June 28, 2024

This week was a busy week.  Probably a normal experience for all of us, particularly if you’re retired, as it seems you all become even busier.  On one day this week, I had a baptism preparation meeting, a funeral, three services and a conversation with the Diocese about our future plans. In between times, I was catching my breath after our joyful celebrations for the consecration of our new Regional Bishop Sarah Plowman last Friday night in St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane at the start of Synod; and, I’ve been reflecting on the debates and decisions of Synod held over the very full Synod weekend in Brisbane. 

One of the actions we took at Synod was to commit, as the people of the diocese of Southern Queensland led by Archbishop Jeremy, through his signature to making our diocese and Church, the first faith community to sign the Queensland Government’s Pledge to work for an end to family and domestic violence.  In signing, we have joined the government’s campaign against family and domestic violence, to equity and to an end to violence in all its forms and its pernicious influence. This decision and action, was among a number challenging debates and decisions which we, as the body of Christ committed to bringing to life on our return to our communities.  So, with all of this happening, I was reminded this is really an ordinary day in the life of the Church, and is reflective of the busyness, complexity and simplicity in our own lives.

When I read the two stories in Mark, 5:21-43, it felt a bit like this for Jesus who is also clearly having one of those days, in one of those weeks.  As we lean into the two stories, Jesus has already travelled by boat from the country of the Gerasenes, to the ‘other side’ of the lake and upon the boat’s arrival, Jesus is immediately approached by Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue who has come in great distress to ask Jesus to heal his 12 year old daughter who is gravely ill at home. 

On the way to Jairus’ home, Jesus is approached discretely by a woman who has been suffering from constant haemorrhages for 12 years, the same amount of time the young girl has been alive.  In Leviticus 15:25-27 there is a very clear set of instructions concerning menstruating women who are considered ritually impure and unclean because of their bleeding. Whoever touched a woman who was having her period was also then considered unclean. Because of these rules, she had been ritually, physically, socially, and spiritually excluded from her community for 12 years.  She had also exhausted her financial reserves trying to find a cure.  She was now poor and economically broken.  Whichever way we read the story, the woman who is without a name, was certainly also outside of society.

We also recognise that Jesus’ agreement to go immediately to see Jairus’ daughter highlights his ongoing disregard for these rules about gender, impurity and cleanliness.  Being in the same room as a woman not of his family, and touching a dead body carried the same considerations of ritual impurity for him and given he didn’t have to do this, would have caused outrage. 

We pause to draw breath on both these stories, and take time to remember what Jesus taught, about love being God’s overriding commandment.  The rules must not prevent God’s love being expressed or shared.  Faith is not built and cannot flourish when restricted and dependent on rules, prohibitions and discrimination for its expression. 

The older woman’s courage and faith in God, in the loving message Jesus was sharing about those who were outcast and scapegoated, impelled her to break all the rules governing her isolation to touch Jesus’ cloak and be healed.  She believed in God’s love.

Jesus also offers the same love to Jairus’ daughter, in spite of the message advising she has died while Jesus was on his way with her father.  The grief of her father and the rest of her family must have been profound; the sudden halting of hope, the despair that follows when the final steps have not worked and all the efforts seem to have been wasted.  We hear about this in the reading from 2 Samuel, 1.1, 17-27, as King David grieves the loss of his beloved Jonathan.  His sense of loss and grief knows no bounds.

However, we learn and experience ourselves, there are no barriers for those whom Jesus offers to help, nor does he pay attention to the difficulties or challenges, nor does he allow despair and isolation to determine his actions.  We know God mourns and laments with us as God is present with us.

Jesus’ actions and words, and God’s love are actively demonstrated for both these women: he breaks the cycle of violence and rejection against those who don’t fit into our world’s expectations; he steps across the boundaries others have put in place, so he can act on God’s love and bring it to those who need refreshment, healing, justice, restoration, life and peace.

He offered the woman who had suffered for so many years, healing, peace and restoration.  He offered the young girl, new life in Christ.   Its worth remembering whoever we are and wherever we are and whatever our challenges, Jesus crosses those boundaries and shares God’s love, being present with each of us.   May you know always you are a beloved child of God.

The Lord be with you.   

Lucy Morris
Lucy Morris
Anglican Priest, International Speaker, Published Author, Social Justice Advocate and Activist.

Comments are closed.