WISDOM 1:13-15, 2:23-24 2 CORINTHIANS 8:7, 9, 13-15 MARK 5:21-43
Last week, the gospel left us with the image of Jesus sleeping at the rear of a boat as his disciples desperately tried to keep the boat afloat when a sudden storm descended on the lake. The disciples woke him up screaming, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”
He stood up and calmed the storm and the wind. They were safe. But we left the scene with Jesus’ response to the disciples ringing in our ears, “Do you not yet have faith?” This week’s gospel develops the theme by showing us two people of tremendous faith.
There was a woman who had been suffering with hemorrhages for twelve years. She was physically worn out and financially depleted because of her doctor bills. Perhaps her greatest suffering came from isolation. In Jewish culture, any ailment involving loss of blood separated an individual from society. She was forbidden to touch people, to eat with people or to attend the synagogue.
She had heard that Jesus was a powerful healer. When she learned that he was nearby she lingered near the crowd that was surrounding him. She hoped to be able to touch him. She managed to get close enough to reach out her hand to touch one the ritual tassels he was wearing. Jesus immediately felt a jolt of power leave him. She felt his power streaming through her. She knew that she had been healed. But then Jesus suddenly shouted out, “Who touched Me?” She became frightened but approached him. He calmed her fears. “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
This woman’s faith was so strong that it attracted Jesus’ healing energy. Besides her
physical healing she received the gift of inner peace.
The second example of tremendous faith was the president of the local synagogue, Jairus. Remember that Jesus was popular among the ordinary people but not with the religious authorities. The word was already out to be cautious of this Jesus. He was very loose in his interpretation of the law and even did public theological battle with the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jairus, a public figure, took a big chance by coming to Jesus. His daughter was at death’s door. People were saying that Jesus was a great healer. No matter what the religious authorities were saying about Jesus, Jairus, in his desperation, had nowhere to turn but to Jesus. A father’s love drove him to humble himself before this healer. “He fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him.” Jesus immediately responded to his request. On the way to his home Jairus witnessed the cure of the woman with the hemorrhage. This must have bolstered his confidence in Jesus but only for the moment. As soon as the crowd neared Jairus’ house they heard flutes playing a dirge and mourners wailing. It was too late. The girl was dead. Jesus admonished the mourners saying that the girl was asleep, not dead. “They ridiculed him.”
Jesus then gathered a small community of faith, Jairus and his wife and his band of three witnesses, Peter, James and John. Before he entered the girl’s room he instructed them. “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
A mere touch and a simple command was all that was needed. “He took the child by the hand and said to her, ‘Little girl, arise.’” Awe fell upon the entire crowd.
Last week’s account of the storm at sea left us with a question; “Do you not yet have faith.” This week’s stories show us the power of faith. The woman with the hemorrhage suffered for twelve years until she found Jesus. As a public figure, Jairus’ request that Jesus pray over his daughter, was a humbling experience.
What do these examples of faith teach us? The woman taught us that a person of faith never gives up. She fought her way through the crowd. Nothing would stop her from reaching out to Jesus. Jairus taught us that the foundation of faith is humility. This prominent man fell to his knees before Jesus. Faith involves trust and reliance, conviction and assurance. Faith can’t be tentative. Faith dwells deep in the heart.
I’m concluding this reflection on faith with the opening passage from a short work entitled, A RULE FOR A NEW BROTHER. It was written by an SSS Community in Holland in 1973 as an inspirational Rule of Life for a lay community. It contains a beautiful description of faith.
You want to seek God with all your life, and love him with all your heart. But you would be wrong if you thought you could reach him. Your arms are too short, your eyes are too dim, your heart and understanding too small. To seek God means first of all to let yourself be found by him. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God of Jesus Christ. He is your God, not because he is yours but because you are his. To choose God is to realize that you are known and loved in a way surpassing anything one can imagine, loved before anyone had a thought of you or spoken your name. To choose God means giving yourself up to him in faith. Let your life be built on this faith as on an invisible foundation. Let yourself be carried by this faith like a child in her mother’s womb. And so, don’t talk too much about God, but live in the certainty that he has written your name on the palm of his hand.