Daughters

Mk. 5:22-24,35b-43

Many years ago I was an on-call clergyman for a regional hospital. I got a call at l0 o’clock Sunday night to come into the hospital. A twelve-year-old girl was dying and the parents were distraught. When I got there at least ten people were crowded into the girl’s room. She had cystic fibrosis, had aspirated, and was having a hard time breathing. The medical team was working like crazy and losing. I stood outside the room, watched, and prayed. The mother was slumped over with her head in her hands. The father, a state trooper, grabbed me by the arm and barked, “Go in there and bless her.” I entered the room, forced my way to the daughter, put my hand on her head, prayed, and then anointed her. As I escorted the trooper out of the room, the doctor shook his head. I marched the father down to the end of the hall and we could hear the mother crying. The father and I said the Lord’s Prayer and started back to the room. We looked in and someone said, “My God’s, she’s breathing!” The girl stabilized and the parents thanked me for my prayers. I wandered off home.

The next day I saw the hospital chaplain. He asked why I was so pale. I told him about the night before. “The scary thing is, Bob, this stuff works.” Bob replied, “Well, what did you expect?” Since then, I have taken prayers for healing very seriously.

St. Mark reports a similar incident in the life of Jesus. The leader of a synagogue beseeched Jesus to lay His hands on his sick twelve-year-old daughter. Jesus agreed, but before He got there it was reported that the daughter had died. Jesus cautioned the rabbi to have faith. When He saw the daughter, Jesus took her hand and told her to get up. She arose and walked around. Everyone was amazed. Jesus told them to get the girl something to eat.

The story echoes the stories of Elijah and Elisha and the healing of a child (I Kgs l7:l7-24 and II Kgs 4:18-37). It was expected that when the messiah came, he would emulate the prophets and heal. Hence legend places Jesus in the line of the prophets. At the same time, the healing of Jairus’ daughter foreshadows the resurrection of Jesus and His promise of eternal life.

The more we know the Bible, the more we find ourselves living into the stories. My hospital experience was an epiphanic moment. I understood the healing that God sometimes gives, often through others, and that was present when Jesus saw the rabbi’s daughter. Are we, people of faith, not called to emulate and to continue such healing? Through prayer and prayerful actions can we not work to improve the lives of children? Are not all children “daughters?” Amen.