As illustrated by the readings for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, God is the source of all goodness, including the gift to recognize that all good things that surround us come from God. The desire to share with others the gifts He has so graciously shared with us also comes from God.
In the letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses a group of Christians who have received an overabundance of spiritual gifts. In addition, they are doing well financially.
He reminds them that these spiritual gifts came from Christ at quite a price. He reminds them that Christ, “Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.”
Since Christ emptied Himself on the cross for their sake, to enrich them spiritually, these spiritually and financially rich people should reach out to others in their material needs and share with others God’s goodness to them.
“Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.”
Once a homeless man asked me to help him with food and shelter, which I did. Then he said, “Could I say a prayer over you right now?” I said, “I would appreciate it very much!” So I allowed Christ to pray over me, and I believe I received the greater bargain. “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”
In the Gospel are two examples of people coming to Jesus in faith and asking for healing, and Jesus granted both of their requests. They approached Jesus from very divergent points of view. The woman suffering from hemorrhages was ritually unclean and therefore expected to keep her distance from others. The synagogue leader was well connected, knew the proper protocols, fell at the feet of Jesus and begged Him to come down to heal his daughter before she died. The woman suffering for 12 years from hemorrhaging had exhausted all her savings, so simply kept her request to herself. She thought, “If I but touch His clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately, she felt in her body that she was healed, but to her shock and surprise Jesus asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” When she came forward and fell at His feet, acknowledging the miracle, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
Notice the compassion and patience of Jesus. He was on an urgent mission to go quickly to the home of the synagogue leader. Yet, Jesus didn’t ignore the desperate cry of the poor woman. He took time to stop and heal her.
Even when the synagogue leader was told that his daughter had died, Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid, just have faith.”
When they reached the home of the synagogue leader and the people were wailing loudly, Jesus said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” When they ridiculed Jesus, He put them out and took the parents and His close disciples into the room of the little girl. He didn’t let the crowd’s lack of faith interfere. Jesus took the little girl by hand, said to her, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl stood up and walked around. The scoffers became believers.
Notice the sincere faith in both cases. Both the people in the Gospel were desperate but hopeful. A deep and simple faith in God makes it so much easier for God to work miracles.
When someone comes and asks for prayers for physical healing, I always take it that Jesus sent them, and I must honor their request. Remember, in the case of the paralytic brought to Jesus by four stretcher-bearers, seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Arise and walk.”
Once I received a call from a parishioner at a hospital. He asked me to come that evening to pray that he could withstand the operation for kidney stones the following morning. I heeded his request and prayed with him, but the more I prayed, the more he twisted, turned, moaned and groaned. So I said to him, “Maybe I should go home and let you get some rest.” He said, “Thanks for coming and praying.”
In the car on the way home I asked Jesus, “Why did I go to the hospital and cause him pain?” I sensed Jesus simply saying to me, “Because he asked you to come.”
The next morning the patient called to tell me that he asked the doctor to take a fresh set of X-rays. They did, and found out he had passed the stones!
Now that He is in heaven, Jesus hasn’t changed His mind about faith and coming to Him with our requests. Jesus looks for people of faith to create a climate in which He can change lives. Jesus constantly challenges us to exercise our faith.
Faith in Jesus is the greatest gift we have, and Jesus wants us to share it with others so that He can share Himself with them in a life of faith. When someone asks you to pray for them, there are no hopeless cases. If they ask you to pray for them, do so on the spot, simply because Jesus sent them.