Jesus must have needed help from time to time. The throngs came to him—at him—with so much need, such different needs. Surely, Jesus must have wondered if could ever have enough, give enough, be enough for all of them.
A pearl of wisdom from one of the youngest members of a virtual House Church I’m a part of allowed me to recognize Jesus’ need, a different protagonist Mark’s Gospel, and the significance of St. Paul’s reminder that we’re all called to “gracious acts” that create abundance and equality: “God, help us so we can help you.”
Mark depicts an exchange of energy between Jesus and the unnamed woman. She is so confident in his power to heal her of an affliction that ostracizes her from the community—perhaps the very religious community that Jarius leads—that she merely touches Jesus’ clothing from the midst of the crowd following him on his way to cure Tabitha. She wordlessly affirms that Jesus is capable of meeting her need, that he is indeed enough. The woman’s faith in Jesus must have flowed back into him, replenishing his spirit and giving him something he needed, since he insists on curing Tabitha, knowing full well that this would no longer be a healing but now a raising from the dead. Abundance!
This woman’s abundance of faith also sparked the equality of Jesus’ gracious act. Jesus ends her 12 years of bleeding and then brings 12 year-old Tabitha back to life. Two people on very different sides of ritual purity laws—the nameless unclean woman they excluded and a synagogue who enforced them—receive a radical chance to be in a new community together. Equality!
How can we be like this unnamed woman and be protagonists with God in creating abundance and equality?
God, help us so we can help you.
Maureen H. O’Connell, Ph.D. is associate professor of religion and theology at La Salle University in Philadelphia.