13th Sunday in Ordinary Time| Year B
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
Some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out, and taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and he told them to give her something to eat.
When Jesus brought the daughter of Jairus to life he chose who was to accompany him. Essentially they were people he could trust, and whose faith would be further built by being with him.
Jesus chose to exclude the crowd. If he had wanted to impress them with a display of miracle-making, he would have let them see what he was to do, and there would not have been an instruction to keep what they had seen to themselves.
Why this secrecy? Jesus was responding to the distress of the parents and to their faith in him. Compassion underlay his response to the parents of the girl, and perhaps he wanted to make sure his trusted companions understood that it was not all about wowing the crowd with his power. This was a house call by Jesus the Pastor to a distressed and grieving family who had reached out to him in faith.
In forming his disciples Jesus often had to counteract their desire for glory and power. If Jesus had focused on impressing the crowd, perhaps in the hope that he would inspire some of them to believe in him, the message the disciples would have received was that following Jesus was all about power and adulation by the crowd.
Compassion means “to suffer with another”. It is essentially a relational and private interaction between a person who suffers and a person who accompanies them in their suffering.
When compassion drives the work of a group of people it will be characterised by humility and faithfulness, and a lack of any desire to make it public. It may become public, as the raising of Jairus’s daughter must surely have done, but that is not driven by those who are acting compassionately.
In our society and in the Church there are many people who act as Jesus did, in private with those who suffer, and who do not make known what they are doing. You may be one of them – if so, keep Jesus’ response to Jairus in mind as you work. If you are not one of them - watch out for opportunities to become one of them.