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Lectionary Living

How the Mighty Fall

6/27: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 and Psalm 130  •  Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24 or Lamentations 3:22-33 and Psalm 30  •  2 Corinthians 8:7-15  •  Mark 5:21-43


Sadly, the lectionary has skipped over one of my favorite heroines – Abigail, a woman whose life is a study in how to manage oneself in triangles, along with how to make a statement through one's own actions, no matter where one is placed in the system (I Samuel 25). Other stories, such as pranks in the enemy camp; a medium and a voice from the dead; throwing of spears at the unarmed; along with the usual raping and pillaging, are also avoided. As 2 Samuel opens, David is making remarks about the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan. Perhaps seeking to raise the vision of the people from the grim circumstances of the time, David skirts the truth, saying that Saul and son had never been divided (1 Samuel 1:23).


Well, while they may have been great warriors, Saul and his son had disagreed. Their disagreements were so extreme that Jonathan and David had worked out detailed, secret plans to subvert the king's intentions. As David continues to cover up the behind-the-scenes facts, he is answering his own lament: how the mighty have fallen. Each of us, to a person, is vulnerable to becoming a Saul-like character: fooled by an unrealistic view of the world, and unable to hear the perspectives of others, who then find themselves using deceit to manage their own lives. In families, tribes, and nations, all suffer as different subgroups start focusing on their own information, which tends to be less than the full picture available if everyone could contribute to a larger view.


At the other end of the spectrum, today's gospel reading is about people with a very realistic view of life and its limitations. There is the leader of the local synagogue, whose daughter was dying, and, in the middle of that story, a separate case of a woman who had suffered from vaginal bleeding for twelve years. In a culture where menstrual cycles were thought of as unclean, a woman with a 12-year period was extraordinarily vulnerable. Rules about avoiding sex before and after a menstrual cycle would have made her not only unable to wed, but also, for as long as she bought into the customs around the 'unclean,' ashamed. The exhaustion of her physical disability may have been crippling in one way; the psychological blow, in another.


Finding her way to Jesus, she touches his clothes and is immediately healed. Jesus, though, notices. He demands to know who has touched him, and although his disciples try to brush it off as just a close crowd, Jesus starts looking around. At this point, the woman comes to him, in fear and trembling, telling him the whole truth (v.33).


How she must have wanted to hide! The courage it must have taken for her to tell the whole truth in front of the crowd! A person can only look on in awe at this story, at Jesus' awareness of her need for both physical and emotional healing; at the self-affirmation that the moment required of her; and her stepping up to do it. In comparison, the healing of her bodily affliction was a small thing. There is no going back, once a person has made herself more fully known – more fully defined – to others. One has become a new self – set free by the truth one has acknowledged. In some sense, each of us – from Saul to Jonathan to David to Abigail to every human – has a similar opportunity to affirm the reality of one's own life. First, though, one must step down from the platform of the mighty.



Morning: Where might it be useful to me, to define myself more fully to others?

Evening: Where do I get stuck, and unable to see the whole reality of a situation?  

Psalm 130:6 My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

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