It often seems as if we have been living with the effects of sin for so long, that we have forgotten God’s original intent of creation. The Book of Wisdom reminds us that God did not create death, nor did God intend for human beings to suffer.
The stories we hear from the Gospel of Mark on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time give us a glimpse of the restoration of the original intent of God. When Jairus approaches Jesus, he comes with his own faith. He must have heard about Jesus and found himself in a very difficult situation. His daughter is dying, and he turns to Jesus. He believes that Jesus could make a difference, and he goes directly to Him with his need. How often do we have that much faith that we turn first to Jesus? If you’re anything like I am, we usually try to solve our own problems and only go to Jesus as a last resort. Why do we act in that way? Do we believe that we shouldn’t bother Jesus with our problems? Do we believe that our problems are of our own making and so we’re responsible to deal with them? Do we believe that asking for help shows that we are weak?
The other character in the Gospel is a woman who has experienced hemorrhaging for years. In her time, she would’ve been considered unclean and untouchable until she had gone through the expected purification rites. It seems that she has tried many cures, and none of them have worked. Her need and her faith in Jesus leads her to inconspicuously make herself part of a crowd that surrounds Jesus. Imagine her surprise when Jesus makes this encounter personal. He acknowledges her faith and He heals her. His relationship with her in that moment leads her from shame and embarrassment to full stature in the community and an example of faith to be followed.
When Jesus asks Peter, James and John to accompany Him into the room of the dying girl, He’s clearly taking the role as their teacher. There is always a temptation, when the results we wish for don’t come so quickly, to give up hope in the face of doubting crowds. It’s almost easier to walk away and hide than it is to continue to have hope and to pray. Have you ever felt that way? If you are reading this, I would assume that you have some faith, a lot of faith, or you might be seeking faith. In any case, any of us who believe in something greater than ourselves are faced with a situation in which we might be ridiculed or belittled. It does become a real faith choice whether we continue to be steadfast in our belief and practice, or we simply hide it from others or give up completely.
When you are in need of healing, to whom do you go? We know that health care professionals are partners with God in healing. As we also know, they don’t always have all the answers to all the mysteries of our human condition. When we need healing in body, mind or spirit we can turn to them, but hopefully our first turn is toward God. We know that our physical lives are not meant to last forever, but we do have the promise of life eternal in the kingdom of heaven. Let us turn to the great healer, the one with the power to calm the storms and mend our broken bodies and spirits. We can certainly take the example of the two main characters from the Gospel this weekend as a pattern for how to live.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.