Sunday reflection: The power of faith
Posted: Thu, 24 Jun 2021 14:59
A reflection on the Gospel for the 13th Sunday of the Year by Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB. Image: Julian Garcia Mejia via Qumran2.net
In our Gospel today, Jesus offers two amazing miracles: the cures of a woman and of a child. Jesus meets Jairus, a synagogue official; he faces the desperation of a parent with a dying child. On his bended knees, he begs Jesus to cure her; this loving father sees, in Jesus, one who wants the very best for humanity—one wants to bring the wholeness and blessings of God into all our lives. The heartfelt plea of Jairus is the cry we make for all our loved ones; it is the cry we make for all victims of this deadly pandemic: we need to see light and hope at the end of this long tunnel.
In the tumult of this crowd, egged on by the excitement of possibly witnessing a miracle, we have the woman who took a chance. She had endured years of physical suffering and was considered an outcast because of strict religious laws. Her reaching out to Jesus in the midst of this hectic throng showed the depth of her faith—even by touching the hem of his garment, she believed that she could be made better. Do I need that faith today: am I prepared to reach out and look for help? This woman stands as an icon of hope in a darkened world: just like her, Jesus offers each one of us true freedom from those problems that keep us from living in true community.
It is in this situation of true healing that Jairus receives the news that no parent should ever hear, "your daughter is dead!" As he was to go on and prove, death does not have to be the end for Jesus. Met at the family's home by the traditional wailing ritual for funerals, Jesus clears the room, taking with him the little girl's parents, together with the 'inner circle' of Peter, James and John. It is in this situation of peace and calm that Jesus makes his invitation of faith, 'Talitha Kum—little girl, I tell you, get up!'
He invites the child to move forward and enjoy the fullness of life that a good relationship with Jesus can involve. As you would expect, the family's response is one of pure joy, as they share the LIFE of this child; one can imagine that the professional mourners, ejected from the room by Jesus, must have felt hard done by. Jesus, practical to the end, sees the need for the child to eat. He only thinks one thing: that you must never forget the people that are with you. You must reach out and care for them. If you don't reach out and care for people, you are not being a human—you are not part of the healing family that our Church must be. You cannot lock yourself up, like the woman in today's gospel, bound by senseless rituals concerning her health. In Jesus, she sees a chance to be free from her isolation and pain—something that the COVID-19 lockdowns have made us more aware of. You were never meant to be alone. You were meant to be with others, and this is what God teaches.
For both the woman and the child, faith plays a crucial part in their lives: it allows them and their families to move through pain and tragedy. In these very different miracles, we recognise a unity amid the religious and political tensions of first century Palestine.
The American author and journalist, Mitch Albom has written an amazing book that I highly recommend called 'Have a Little Faith'—the plea of Jesus today. The book is basically two extended conversations that Albom has with a Rabbi and a Protestant pastor. It is the true story of differences that can exist in our society if we allow them; we need to work for the things that unite humanity and ignore those negative forces that seek divide—above all, Albom asks us to listen fully to each other. When we can truly listen, then good dialogue will take place. In this coming week, we will be asked to listen to many different people; in our busy lives, let us listen to those who can really make a difference in our lives. This simple story, related by Albom, makes the point forcibly:
A little girl came home from school with a drawing she'd made in class. She danced into the kitchen ,where her mother was preparing dinner.
"Mom,guess what ?" she squealed waving the drawing .
Her mother never looked up.
"What"? she said, tending to the pots.
"Guess what?" the child repeated, waving the drawings.
"What?" the mother said, tending to the plates.
"Mom, you're not listening!"
"Sweetie, yes I am."
"Mom," the child said "You're not listening with your EYES!"
'Have a Little Faith', Mitch Albom, Sphere Books
Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB