Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. A man saw it, and told Joab, "I saw Absalom hanging in an oak." Joab said, "I will not waste time like this with you." He took three spears in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive in the oak.
Now David was sitting between the two gates. The sentinel went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he looked up, he saw a man running alone. he sentinel shouted and told the king. The king said, "If he is alone, there are tidings in his mouth." He kept coming, and drew near. The king said, "Turn aside, and stand here." So he turned aside, and stood still.
It was told Joab, "The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom." So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the troops; for the troops heard that day, "The king is grieving for his son." The troops stole into the city that day as soldiers steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle.
Turn your ear, O Lord, and give answer
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am faithful:
save the servant who trusts in you. (R./)
You are my God, have mercy on me, Lord,
for I cry to you all the day long.
Give joy to your servant, O Lord,
for to you I lift up my soul. (R./)
O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
full of love to all who call.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my voice. (R./)
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 hemorrhages 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 hemorrhage 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."
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and waiing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha kum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
While it is too negative to call this world a “valley of tears”, our texts today from Samuel and from Saint Mark remind us of the frailty of human life and of the setbacks that are unavoidably part of it. No other text more poignantly captures the loving grief of parents for their children than David’s mournful words over his dead son: “My son Absalom. Oh Absalom, my son. If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!” The anguish of life is again shown in the story about the woman who spent twelve years seeking a cure, by all sorts of expensive treatments, until her savings ran out. We see the same mixture of anguish and hope in Jairus the synagogue official who begs for a cure for his twelve-year-old daughter.
David could not celebrate the fact that the rebellion against him was crushed. Instead he dearly longed that his rebellious son, Absalom, could have survived the battle. Jairus would not have wanted another girl in place of his dead daughter. In the case of the woman with the debilitating illness, Mark’s account reflects the personal concern of Jesus: “Who has touched me?” he asks, wanting to speak with that woman face to face.
Our Gospel today includes two quite different personalities, one of them confident, the other one very shy. Jairus, who spoke up on behalf of his daughter, was a synagogue official well known to his neighbours. The other person was the unnamed woman who was probably embarrassed by her illness, which rendered her ritually impure and excluded her from the synagogue. They were two people of very different backgrounds, but both showed deep faith in Jesus as healer.
Jairus fell on his knees quite openly, while the woman came up behind Jesus and secretly touched his cloak. Jairus wanted to be heard, while the woman didn’t want to be noticed. Though their approach is so different, their faith is equally strong. Jesus called on the woman to come forward. ‘Who touched me?’ We need to publicly put our trust in him. Our witness is a support to the faith of others.