Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sister Nina Vandamme, SNDdeN

Jun 26, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

June 30, 2024

Mark 5: 21 – 43

There are a few individuals – in addition to Jesus – who play roles in this passage from the Gospel: Jairus and his daughter, a woman, and Jesus’ disciples. After Jesus had left for the opposite shore on the boat and arrived there, a crowd gathered round him.

– Jairus desires “life” for his daughter and believes that if Jesus lays his hands on her, she will be healed.

– Out of faith and her single-mindedness to be helped by Jesus, the woman wants to be allowed to at least touch Jesus’ clothes.

Both need help in their hopeless situations and believe that Jesus can help them. They desire healing. Both express their respect for Jesus by falling on their knees. An unusual act for us today who almost no longer recognize the value of this gesture or seriously underestimate its significance. It does not signal subjection or humiliation; no, it means something entirely different. It is their deep respect, their faith in Jesus that comes to expression here, together with their intense desire for healing.

They throw their whole being into their request and need, and, ignoring the crowd around them, cry out their inability to change their situation. Those surrounding them, the crowd here present, are irritated and look on disapprovingly and seem rather to want Jesus to keep his distance from the cry for help these two people give voice to. They see them as “disturbers of the peace.” You can hear this in their responses: “You see the people crowding against you … and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And in the other case, ““Your daughter is dead…. Why bother the teacher anymore?” But Jesus does not let himself be intimidated by this and turns his back on the resistance of the crowds. The people at Jairus’ house have given up hope regarding his daughter and even laugh at Jesus when he tells them that she is not dead but asleep.

In both cases, it is striking that “touch” plays such an important role in this story. The woman takes the initiative, driven by her faith. But in the case of Jairus’ daughter, it is Jesus who takes the initiative. He allows only the girl’s parents and his disciples to accompany him inside, as if he wants to ensure that the setting is one of faith. He reaches out his hand to the girl to help her stand.

In the first instance, Jesus praises the faith of the woman: “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” The healing gives her liberation and joy. In the second case, Jesus invites the people: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” In both situations, it concerns faith expressed in word and deed. Whenever Jesus encounters faith in people, it elicits from him his divine power that irresistibly breaks through to those suffering and at the same time brings them deep joy.
After the mocking laughter and the healing of the child, the people present are astounded and dumbfounded. In contrast, however, the child dances in joy. Jesus attempts to show all present true reality and tells them to care for the child and to give her something to eat.

Questions for reflection:

The woman’s touching of Jesus’ clothes happens here in a context of faith. What are my experiences with being touched and touching the other? What is power of touch? Does faith play a role?

  • Am I disturbed or do I feel disturbed if someone in the crowd asks for time and attention? Can I change my plans for that eventuality?
  • Do I support the faith of another? Or do I disappear into the anonymous crowd in order to avoid the call to me that it gives rise to?



Mark 5: 21 – 43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon hiThere was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”, He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

The Gospel of the Lord



Meet Sister Nina Vandamme, SNDdeN

Nina Vandamme was born in Antwerp in Belgium: she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame at the 8th of September 1967. Before entering the Sisters of Notre Dame, she taught for 3 years at the first year of a primary school in Antwerp. After her novitiate, she taught for 9 years at the SND primary school in Berchem again in the first year and worked for another 9 years as a remedial teacher for children with learning difficulties in the same school. After that she was missioned as a principal to the primary school and kindergarten of Antwerp for 13 years. Sr. Nina is very grateful for what she has been able to learn from children. She says: “They have been my teachers. I sometimes wonder who was teaching whom: did I teach them or did they teach me?” She responds: “The answer is probably: ‘a bit of both’, but at all events I owe them a great debt–especially, those who challenged me to keep searching until I found what they needed and refused to let me give up.”