Paul has set out to collect money to help poor Christians in Jerusalem. He hopes this will also build closer fellowship and unity across diverse and dispersed congregations.
There are several strands to Paul’s appeal.
He calls on the unresponsive Corinthian churches to match the generous support he has received from congregations in northern Greece.
He invokes classical Greek values of striving for all round excellence. “You now excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness … now finish it … ” (8:7,11)
Prayerful concern is acceptable to God if supported by giving according to our means (8:11). This entails praying to God for capacities and strength equal to the tasks he sets us.
Paul offers a fair and balanced approach to issues of poverty and sharing resources, with people contributing what they can and taking only what they need (8:13-15). But let’s take care not to define our need in terms of our greed.
Jesus challenges us to go further. Today’s Mark reading shows him giving fully and freely of himself in the power of God.
Jesus doesn’t plan each day as to what he will teach or whom he will heal. He gets out among people and the tasks come to him.
As he sets out to heal Jairus’ daughter, a woman suffering repeated haemorrhaging touches his cloak and, drawing on his power, is healed. He moves on to heal Jairus’ daughter.
Both stories highlight the strong faith in Jesus’ powers by those who sought his help and how such faith evokes an even stronger response from him.