Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Chiasm. One story nestled in another.
Both stories are about death and despair, and one of my favorite phrases, hope and against hope.
The first is a story about death, the worst death of all, the death of a child. Jairus pleads repeatedly with Jesus to come and heal his daughter, he, the leader of the synagogue begs Jesus.
The woman has seen every doctor, she has spent every penny. And rather than getting better she’s gotten worse. She’s at the point where people do crazy things just to feel better, chasing rumors and the promises of quacks.
In times of despair, people do crazy things. They do things that they know, deep down, will not work. They consult psychics, they adorn themselves with crystals. They hope against hope. Their world is shaken, and there is nowhere for them to put their trust, so they scramble hoping against all sense and evidence that something, anything will help. Hence the woman thought to herself, “If I just touch the hem of his garment”—why should that do anything? And yet it wasn’t the garment. It was the man. Which is why Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well.”
The trick to chiasms is to figure out what unites the stories. And today I think Mark has brought together two stories of desperate hope.