Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2 COR 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mk 5:21—43
Married couples, both 60 years old, were celebrating their 35th anniversary. During their party, a fairy appeared to congratulate them and grant them each one a wish. The wife wanted to travel around the world. The fairy waved her wand and poof — the wife had tickets in her hand for a world cruise. Next, the fairy asked the husband what he wanted. He said, “I wish I had a wife 30 years younger than me.” So the fairy picked up her wand and poof — the husband was 90.
Today’s Gospel describes two of our Lord’s miracles, the healing of a woman who suffered from a chronic bleeding disease and the returning of the dead daughter of Jairus to life. The stories have several common features. One woman is 12 years old, and the other has suffered for 12 years. Both are called “daughter,” and both are in need of physical healing. The girl’s father is encouraged to have Faith, and the older woman is praised for her Faith. The two stories illustrate Jesus’ power over both chronic illness and death. In each healing, Jesus shows his marvelous generosity by giving the recipients life and salvation in addition to physical healing.
For 12 years that woman who touched Jesus was afflicted with a hemorrhage. After receiving treatment from doctors of every sort, her money supply was gone. She didn’t have any medical insurance. Not only that but she was still sick, even worse than before.
How often have you heard that story? Maybe it is your story. Some sickness that neither your doctor in general practice nor the specialists he sends you to seem to be able to cure. And if you don’t have medical insurance, you now owe more than you can earn anytime in the foreseeable future. You might wonder which is worse – the sickness or the doctor bill. The woman with the hemorrhage is probably one of the most up-to-date stories in the gospels. It is one that many people today can relate to. It is being lived over and over by many people in the 21st century, right here and now in 2015. What can we do about it?
What did the woman do? She went to Jesus. She went to the one who is always looking for miseries to cure, for people to who will reach out to take his hand.
Imagine Jairus’ panic and his fear when he realized that his little girl, 12 years old, was about to die. We can presume that Jairus did everything he could to cure the girl, but nothing was working. When the Gospel begins, the child is at the point of death. But Jairus is a responsible person. When he hears that Jesus is in the neighborhood, he forms a plan. He leaves the deathbed of his daughter and his house full of people and goes out to put his plan into action. He finds Jesus and pleads with him to come and lay his hands on his daughter, hoping and trusting that if Jesus would do that, the little girl would live.
Jesus agrees to go and the two of them set out for Jairus’ house together. Then the tragic news arrives. It’s too late, the child has died. Jairus’ plan will no longer work. As the people who bring the news say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” There is nothing left to do.
It is at this point that Jesus says a curious thing. He turns to Jairus with a directive, “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.” It is likely that Jesus’ words disturb Jairus. In anger he might respond, “I did have faith. I put my faith in the plan that you would heal my daughter. But now it is too late. She is dead. I had faith in a plan that did not work.” It would take Jairus some time to realize that Jesus had another plan that would work. Jairus’ plan fell apart. Jesus’ plan would succeed. Jairus was planning that his daughter be healed. Jesus was planning a resurrection.
Today’s gospel first of all emphasizes that responsible people have to devise plans. Both Jairus and the woman devised the plan to seek Jesus’ help. Through our efforts we are expected to plot ways through which goodness will be brought to ourselves and to those we love. But a second aspect reminds us that God also has plans that might be different from our own. If we need a job, we cannot sit around and simply pray. We have to act, to send out resumes, to go for interviews. At times we become hopeful over an interview that seems to go very well. But when we find out that the job has gone to someone else, Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith. I have another plan.”
We may have lost someone who we loved. The hole of the grief is so large that we can hardly breathe. But we have to choose to enter life again. Sometimes it seems we are making progress, and then there are other days when it is as bad as ever. On those days Jesus says, “Do not be afraid. Just have faith. It will happen, but it will happen according to my plan, not yours.”
Dear friends! If you are in dire need, if you are at your wit’s end, then by all means call out to God for help. To believe that God will hear and help you is central to the gospel. But do not wait until you are in crisis before you turn to God. Take God with you to every moment of every day. God is loving you now. Claim that love today. That is what God wants. That is what we need.