24th Sunday After Pentecost
Healing of Jairus’ Daughter
In today’s Holy Gospel we witness the miracle of faith, hope, and love.
Christ and His disciples had just returned from their visit to the country of the Gadarenes and, as the news of Christ’s fame and good works was growing, they were surrounded by a multitude who awaited Him – some seeking healing and comfort, others were probably there out of curiosity and the desire to see some spectacle.
We are told that a man named Jairus, a respected ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house and heal his daughter, who was deathly ill. Jairus approached Christ with faith and hope that He could heal his only daughter and make her well. There was urgency in his voice as he knew that she might not have long to live. Christ heard his desperate request and agreed to come to his house, promising to make his daughter well again.
But as they were making their way, the progress was slow since a great crowd pressed upon Him. Imagine how stressful this must have been for Jairus… his last hope for his only child was ‘so near, and yet so far’ from coming and laying His hands upon the child to make her well. And now, suddenly, in the midst of this pressing throng, our Lord stops and asks, ‘Who touched Me?’
This must have seemed an absurd question to His disciples and, indeed, Peter replies to his Master, ‘So many people throng and press upon You, and You ask ‘Who touched Me?’’…
But there was something unique going on here. A woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years, who had spent all of her money on physicians and trying to find a cure, had approached our Lord with great faith – believing that if she could only touch the hem of His garment, this alone would be enough to heal her. And reaching out to Christ, she touched his garment and Grace flowed from our Lord in response to the simplicity and hope and determination of true faith – and the woman was immediately healed.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the midst of the important mission of getting to Jairus’ house, in the midst of being surrounded by such a great multitude of people, takes the time to stop, to recognize and declare the administration of His healing Grace, to identify and speak directly to the woman who had been healed saying ‘Daughter, be of good cheer, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’
While all this was going on, someone came from the house of Jairus with the terrible news that his daughter had already died… that there was no longer any need to trouble the Master. I can hardly imagine what a crushing blow this must have been for Jairus, who must have been suffering such a trial of patience, trying to move everyone along in his haste to bring Christ to the bedside of his dying daughter. And now, as he had feared, it was too late… his daughter was dead.
But when Jesus heard it, He answered saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’
Now came a tremendous test for the faith of Jairus. In the face of all worldly wisdom and practical experience and common sense – he was being told to ‘only believe’, to simply have faith and hope in God. Jairus was being told to have faith in the face of all that would shout against it. The remaining journey to his home must have been a real crisis for the faith of Jairus.
When they entered the home, where all were mourning the loss of the child, our Lord said, ‘Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.’ And the members of the house ridiculed and mocked Him, knowing that she was dead.
Here again, Jairus is put to the test –all of his family and friends are laughing and ridiculing Christ - but still, they press forward and enter the room where the dead child lay. And our Lord, through His life-giving power and love, took the child by the hand and, at His words, ‘Little girl, arise.’ she immediately was resurrected and lived again.
How often, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do we hear today the echoes of the cynical mocking and ridicule of the members of Jairus’ house? The unbelieving world flounders in despair and vulgarity, having lost that spark of faith and hope. The world, which teeters on that precipice of hopelessness, still arrogantly smirks at the perceived naivete of those who keep the flame of faith alive in their hearts.
Do not be intimidated by the world’s mockery… let us not lose hope… let us listen to the words of our Lord Who says: ‘Do not be afraid; only believe.’
And what is it that we must believe? We believe in the healing power of the resurrection of Christ our God. That by God’s grace and love, the heart of an individual can be changed and transfigured. This is the true and only hope… for, in the immortal words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn: ‘the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being’.
The world spins madly in the widening gyre. It is a great temptation to get swept away in the drama of the world’s narrative. It is very easy to become afraid as the world descends into the chaos of godlessness. It is difficult to remain calm as the world might mock your belief and simple piety.
But our Lord has said: ‘In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’
We must have faith. Faith against all odds. Faith even though the world and your logic may tell you there is no hope, when friends and foes mock and ridicule you, faith when all seems lost and desperate, … faith to simply place everything in the capable and loving hands of God and then, to trust in Him.
May we have this courage and patient hope of Jairus to listen with faith to the words of our Lord, when He says, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe.’ And may we have the strength and focused determination of the woman with the issue of blood who fought her way through the crowd to reach out to the Lord with wholehearted faith. If we do so, we can be encouraged and confident that our Lord will stop and attend to us… that we may hear the wonderful words of Christ, ‘Be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’