The Holy Gospel: July 1, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 5:21-43

Meditation:  “Turmoil!”

This section in Marks’ gospel could be titled with the one word:  turmoil.

Turmoil between Jesus and religious leaders.  Turmoil between Jesus and his family.  Turmoil between Jesus and his disciples.  And today, turmoil between Jesus  and Jairus and the woman.

But today, the turmoil is not on the sea (as it was last week), it is in the minds of a distraught father and a depleted woman.

Peter Chrysologus (380-450 a.d.) viewed today’s lesson from this vantage point and wrote, “No seas were ever so troubled by the ebb and flow of the tide, as the mind of the woman, pulled to and fro by the sway of her thoughts”  (Sermon 33.4).   The same thing could be said about Jairus as he sought Jesus help on behalf of his daughter.

When we read last week’s and this week’s gospel lesson together, we see that Jesus is actually doing on land what he had previously done on sea.  He was “calming the storm.”

Hopelessness is never good, whether it be in relation to others or to ourselves.  Jesus always responds to it.  Turmoil only makes life unstable and “all shook up.” Jesus wants to calm the winds, send the pigs away (a similar gospel lesson between these two), and otherwise restore sanity and stability to life.

All the lessons in this section of Mark point to the fact that we must seek him out.  Restoration is not automatic, and we are not passive in the process.  Instead, we engage ourselves “unto the Lord” to seek him out and ask for his help.

Recently, I was watching a brief video made by Father Thomas Keating on the “prayer of help.”  He interprets the one-word prayer for “help” as the same kind of prayer as when we say, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” in the Lord’s prayer.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.  Whether it’s bewildered disciples, a grieving father, an ill woman, or any one of us, the cry for “help” is a longing for the turmoil to cease and for the will of God to be done in relation to our needs.  In every case, when we are willing to ask for help, Jesus is willing to give it.


About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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