The old ragged patch, the old rugged cross, the young girl and new life


One does not sew a holy ragged patch upon a new garment. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Mark 2:21

Jesus took the child by the hand and commanded, “Talitha koum,” “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. They were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and asked that she should be given something to eat. Mark 5:41

What could these passages possibly have in common? Hebrew has a rule, G’zerah Shavah, finding a similar word found in two places, we apply the same considerations to both. Hebrew rhetoric states there are no unnecessary words in Torah. Where is the common word? The Aramaic word for “ragged,” is “Talitha.” Why is the ragged path holy? Jesus is not talking about rags or patches, but about the coming Christian community and its members. We are the ragged patch not sewn upon the old rotted system.

The story of the women on the road is in the middle of this. This woman heard about Jesus, came up from behind him in the crowd, and touched his cloak. “If I but touch his clothes, I will be cured.” Her flow dried up. She felt her body healing. Jesus, turned around in the crowd, “Who touched my clothes?” The woman, fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He told her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.”

Matthew 9:20 tells us the women touches the tassel of his cloak. Numbers 15:38 is the final paragraph of the Hebrew Shema, the Jewish creed. It includes, “When you use these tassels, the sight of the cord will remind you of all the Mitzvah of the Personal Name, and you will do them, without going after the desires of your hearts and your eyes. You will remember to do my Mitzvah and you will be holy/dedicated to your Almighty Judge.”

The woman on the way is sewing that ragged patch upon what has been for millennia. She is reaching back to heritage, but not the old tired way of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Hebrew verb has no past or future sense. All is in the present. The Ten Commandments include:

Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, You who quarrel with Mighty Judge, the customs and correct judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to keep them. The Personal Name, our Mighty Judge, cut a Brit/Social Contract with us at Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Brit/Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression/Europe/sweatshops/ out of the house of menial labor.

The Mitzvah and the reward going with it was not given to our fathers, but to us. Each generation relives the Exodus experience, for the first time, each time, they celebrate Passover. The Jewish community has the concept of the Physical Presence. The concept is of the physical presence of the exodus from Egypt. For the Christian community, the concept is of Jesus death and resurrection in Eucharist. This is what the woman on the road reaches out to touch, not just some rags hanging from Jesus’ clothing.

As we look at our mural at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we notice how it is not the polished business people who kneel next to the Lamb of God and the Four Rivers of life. It is the ragged working class people who kneel there. They are the Holy Ones. Likewise, to the right of the mural and Father as he presents his homily, it is not a businessman we see as the father of Jesus, but St. Joseph the Worker. We need to remember this as we go out into the world.

The woman with the blood flow had it for twelve years. The girl Jesus heals is twelve years old. There are twelve Jewish tribes and twelve apostles. Jesus comes to rescue all Israel and all humanity from the contagion of tradition apart from the reason for the tradition. Jesus comes to bring the Physical Presence into the present. He does that by healing the twelve year old and the twelve-year-old problem. He then tells the woman, “Your faith,” not I, “has saved you.” Her reaching back to Sinai and heritage saves her. Jesus, whose name means, “God Saves,” is that salvation incarnate. This leaves the question, “Why command the silence of the crowd?” The Gospel of Mark has three endings. The original ending is:

The angel commanded them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. Go! Tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee…’ They went out and fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered. They said nothing to anyone; they were afraid.

They tell nobody when they are told to tell everybody. All through the Gospels, those healed are told to tell nobody and they tell everybody. This brings us to the concept of the forever present. We are now the people told to spread the word of these healings and the resurrection into new life. Do we spread the good news and bring healing to our world, or do we preach morality. Behold the place where they laid him. It is the altar upon which sits the Eucharist. Please, look at this before you leave Mass on Sunday, then please, go out and bring healing/therapy to our starving world.

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One thought on “The old ragged patch, the old rugged cross, the young girl and new life

  1. Pingback: We reach our hand out to Jesus, to living tradition, and to each other « The stories of Curtis and Salvador

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