Reflections from the Hillbrow clinic

Today, feeling a little flu-ish I went off to the Hillbrow clinic to get some treatment. 5 hours later I walked out having gone through all of the processes. You start out in a queue to open a file. This takes about 2 hours. Then you join another 1 and a half hour queue to get you BP and blood sugar (and get an HIV and TB test if you like). Then there is a 30 minute queue to see the sister – the first time you tell anyone why you are there. She wrote out a script on my file and off I went to join my final queue… the pharmacy queue which took another hour and I was given medicine. Apart from one or two instances of being rudely told when and where to stand and sit, most of the staff were quite pleasant and I was kept company by the very engaging Jon Owen in the form of his book which I have not yet finished Muddy Spirituality – Bringing It All Back Down To Earth . Remembering an earlier Robert Mc Afee Brown quote from this book, “where you stand determines what you see”, from this place of the Hillbrow clinic – among the mostly poor – all waiting in long queues to see a doctor, I read the chapter in which he dealt with the story of Jesus healing the daughter of Jairus and also healing the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages (Mark 5:21-43). I reflected on the power relationships at work in this chapter: Jairus – a leader of the synagogue, Jesus – a man familiar with suffering who was found mostly among those on the margins of society, and a powerless and obviously very poor woman with an issue of blood (her name not even mentioned).

Quite a lot is happening – first there is the meeting with the influential, probably well educated Jairus who was a leader in the synagogue – Jesus’ disciples may have been thinking about the possible opportunities this new relationship with an influential man may provide and yet Jesus stops to talk to the woman who had touched him, making him “unclean” in terms of Levitical law, slowing him down and possibly even jeopardizing his mission to go and heal an influential man’s daughter. What might have been going through Jairus’s mind? What was Jesus thinking? What was he trying to model and teach through this at this moment in the account?

Was Jesus perhaps modelling something about equality and perhaps even our priorities? I am convinced that God is not as concerned as we are with appearance, making the right connections, and even being among the influential. In the words of Jon Owen “This story shatters those illusions. We find a God down in the dirt, risking scandal and ignoring human convention. Just like Jairus, if we desire to be healed and live, then we too need to allow this Jesus into our lives.”