Saturday 3rd December 2022 World Cup 2 Mark 5: 21-34
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
“Who touched me?” People saying they’re injured, then repeatedly begging for results sounds all too familiar as I have spent many years as a football referee; I sometimes question why I do it! But there’s just something about it that keeps me going back to it.
Referees often work alone. At the level of football we are witnessing right now, however, they are a mini team themselves, with a minimum of six per game. Each referee has a very different role, but it’s usually the one in the middle, or the fourth official (between the managers) who gets the biggest earful. Referees get barely any praise when it goes well and plenty of abuse when it goes wrong. Refereeing sounds like a harsh job, but it is entirely reflective of the society we live in, football aside.
Whilst Jesus worked alone in his healing, he was very much supported by his disciples. Often unhelpfully, they would attempt their own crowd management. Jesus wanted people to come to him naturally, rather than form an orderly queue. Jesus wanted to reach the people in real need – like the woman in today’s passage – rather than those who could stand in the queue the longest, or shout the loudest.
The motto that remains, incorrectly, in footballers’ minds nowadays, is that those who shout the loudest get the decision. On the flip side, as a referee, you are told “you only gave that decision because they shouted for it”. Trust me, the decision has already been made.
Just as Jesus is aware of who needs the ‘decision,” who needs the help, we too must be alert to need in these troubling times. We need to help those who need it most and maybe even shout a little bit at decision-makers so things change for the better.
Generous God, You have given us an earth full of resources, all that we could need and more. These resources are not evenly distributed. Let us speak up for those who feel voiceless. Let us break down barriers that prevent people gaining support. So that regardless of how loud we shout, we can all experience the love, peace and joy that you offer to us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen