“Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many had touched it were healed.”
Words from our gospel today, according to Mark.
In this ancient society, certain sicknesses meant physical suffering, but also emotional suffering from isolation, loneliness, and being cut off from community.
The word Mark uses for “begged” here is “parakalein,” which means literally, “to call to the side of.” This word is also the root of Paraclete, or advocate.
The sick are asking him to come to their side.
To heal them, sure. But so much more.
They were calling for an advocate so they could be restored.
Jesus not only brings back health, but he also comes to their side to listen to their pain and their grief.
To be there when nobody else would.
To restore them to communion.
We can all relate to the feeling of missing out and being isolated from time to time.
Sometimes it’s an illness.
Sometimes it’s a contagious condition.
Sometimes it’s due to immobility.
All reasons beyond our control.
It feels like life goes on without us.
And it hurts.
We’re disconnected, and it’s not our fault.
It’s just not fair.
Jesus waits for us during these times, as advocate.
He pays attention.
He waits for us when it seems nobody else will.
Always by our side, on our side.