(2 Samuel 1:1,17-27; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5;21-43)


I will exalt you, O Lord,

You have brought me up, O Lord, from the dead,

O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever!


In recent weeks our Gospel readings have been from Mark.

You recall our reading from last week– the disciples are in the boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee and a great storm comes up. The disciples are fearful and Jesus calms the storm with “Peace, Be still!” This week our Gospel reading begins with “When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him…” It sounds as if we are going from one major event directly into another – things do seem to move fast in Mark’s Gospel!

In today’s Gospel Mark tells the story of Jesus’ healing of the daughter of a leader of the synagogue. It is a beautiful story, a very fast-moving story which is sort of interspliced with the story of the healing of another person – a woman with hemorrhages.

One of my favorite books is “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In it he re-tells the story of the healing of the little girl.

He re-tells it in an imagining of Christ’s revisiting the earth – this time in Spain, in Seville, during the time of the Spanish Inquisition: (1)

“He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone recognized Him. The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart; light and power shine from His eyes; and their radiance, shed on the people, stirs their heart with responsive love. He holds out His hands to them and blesses them with a healing virtue [which] comes from contact with Him, even with His garments. An old man in the crowd, blind from childbirth, cries out, ‘O Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee!’ and as it were, scales fall from his eyes and the blind man sees Him. The people weep and kiss the earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before Him, sing and cry hosannah. ‘It is He – it is He! all repeat. ‘It must be He, it can be no one but He! He stops at the steps of Seville cathedral at the moment when the weeping mourners are bringing in a little open white coffin. In it lies a child of seven, the only daughter of a prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in flowers. ‘He will raise your child,’ the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The priest, coming to meet the coffin, looks perplexed and frowns, but the mother of the dead child throws herself at His feet with a wail. ‘If it is You, raise my child!’ she cries, holding out her hands to Him. The procession halts, the coffin is laid on the steps at His feet. He looks with compassion, and His lips once more softly pronounce, ‘Tabitha cumi!’and the maiden arises. The little girl sits up in the coffin, and looks round, smiling with wide-open wondering eyes, holding white roses they had put in her hand.”

It is a beautiful story, a story with a happy ending.

As someone has pointed out, every time we re-tell the story we repeat the very words in the same Aramaic that Jesus would have said on that day in that house overlooking the Sea of Galilee. “Tabitha cumi” – little girl, get up – are the words in Aramaic that Jesus used.

We have come through a harrowing time. Indeed, with stories of flare-ups of the virus in various areas, of disturbing variations of the virus that the current vaccinations may or may not be effective against – there may still be the need for caution and concern.

But even so as possibly we are at the end – maybe the time we can return to some semblance of “normality” there are efforts to sum up what we have been through – critiques of what has been done or not done…

Over the past weekend I read an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which Barton Swain talked about some of those measures especially in light of a recent book published by Harvard University Press by Carter Snead, “What it Means to be Human.” (2).

The author of that book is a member of the faculty at the University of Notre Dame. He is a bio-ethicist whatever that is. I am learning what that is – or at least being introduced to what that is by reading his book.

Something happened to me last Sunday. It happened here. As you know at the close of our service, we sing one last hymn and some us exit at that time. Then I say the words of Dismissal – “Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord…” and Scott plays what is called the Closing Voluntary and the service is over and everyone goes home.

I’m in the back of the church and some who are leaving will smile and say something – or sometimes not.

Last week one of our members came over to me and hugged me.

I haven’t been so hugged like that for over a year.

I needed that.

Maybe we all need that.

I am learning what bio-ethics is all. Each of us is an embodied creature – a human person – and as such we need each other, we need to be with each other, we need to talk to each other, we need even to shake hands, maybe even to touch each other from time to time with a gentle touch – a gentle pat of the back – a touch on the arm that says ‘I know what you are going through.’ But let me use the words of the Bio-ethicist from his book:

“…this book [describes] an account of human identity that embraces not only the truth and reality of human freedom and particularity, but also the vulnerability, mutual dependence, and finitude that result from our individual and shared lives as embodied beings…

“…both for [our] basic survival and [our] flourishing, embodied (vulnerable) human beings depend on networks of ‘uncalculated giving and graceful receiving’ constituted by other people who are willing to make the good of others their own, regardless of what this might offer by way of recompense’…Put most simply and directly, by virtue of their embodiment, human beings are made for love and friendship.”

The Gospel of Mark is the first Gospel. The “experts” and the “authorities” cannot tell us very much about it and the one who is said to have written it. The earliest church believed it written by Mark whose source was Peter himself. In the portion of the Gospel we have read this morning you will recall that Peter is listed first of the three disciples Jesus permitted in the room with the child along with her parents. The early church said Mark was the first bishop in Alexandria as Peter was Bishop in Rome and that using the recollections of Peter himself Mark put down the words that we know as the Gospel of Mark. This was the understanding of Eusebius an early Bishop in Caesarea. Eusebius was also the first historian of the Christian church.

Whatever else we can say about the writings of Mark we can say that we see and hear the words of Someone who loves us and wants the best for us as He did for the woman in the crowd with the hemorrhages and the little girl.

And whatever we think about the words of the Bio-ethicist – I think we hear words of truth and wisdom about us -about how we live and live with each other– and about how to get along with others.

Maybe some of things he is saying are just modern iterations of what Jesus said so long ago – love one another – do unto others as you would have them do to you – and show your love for others by how you live your life…

Maybe now is the time to be family again.


I will exalt you O Lord,

You have brought us up, O Lord from the dead,

O Lord our God, we will give you thanks for ever!



(1) Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov,” The Modern Library, P. 258

(2) Barton Swain, “Why Shutdowns and Masks suit the Elite” Wall Street Journal, P. A15, June 19-20, 2021

(3) O. Carter Snead, “What it means to be Human, the Case for the Body in Public Bioethics,” Harvard University Press, 2020