13th Week of Ordinary Time 2015 (Mark 5:21-43)

The reading for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B is a favorite of biblical commentaries. Scripture Scholars give a special name to the literary technique Mark uses here and throughout the gospel. They call it an “intercalation,” or more popularly, a “Markan Sandwich. What Mark does is begin Story A, pause it, then tell Story B to its conclusion, then go back and finish story A. This literary device then links the two stories as if they are only one story. (Notice that the little girl was 12 years old and the woman had suffered for 12 years.) It’s like meat between two pieces of bread, thus “Markan Sandwich.”

The woman, in the story, would have been considered “unclean” because of the blood flow. No one was supposed to come in contact with blood as it was the source of life and thus belonged to God. (Kosher laws forbid the eating of blood in meat for that reason!) Thus, she was like “a dead woman walking.” She was outside the community. She was experiencing a “living death;” while the little girl was literally dead. Jesus gives life back to both: the woman can resume her life in society and the little girl is brought back as Jesus tells them to give her “something to eat.”

Jesus brings us back from death, the death of sin. He can cure us, too, if we seek Him out and touch Him for his grace and forgiveness.

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