Today’s readings remind us that in desperate situations even a drop of faith in Our Lord is enough to make the outcome exceed our expectations.
In today’s First Reading we’re reminded that death may be something we expected, but it was not something Our Lord wanted. The Lord created everything as good, something that would help us to grow and thrive. Death is a lack of something, so we can’t pin death on the Lord. Sin entered the world because the devil, already fallen, couldn’t stand that anyone wasn’t. Envy is best summarized as seeing someone’s gain as your loss. Sin introduced a destructive element into Creation, and that destruction led to death. Physical death is a consequence of the spiritual death cause by Original Sin and by mortal sin. If physical death is terrifying and horrible, spiritual death is far worse.
In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that Our Lord did the exact opposite of the devil, and his response to sin and death exceeded everyone’s expectations. When we basically spit in the Lord’s face due to our sin he was gracious enough to forgive us and give us another chance. However, he didn’t stop there. He took the consequences of sin and death upon himself to destroy them. If envy is seeing someone’s gain as your loss, Our Lord saw our loss as his loss and left aside all the riches he enjoyed in Heaven and took death upon himself so that we could regain life. Paul talks about helping others when we’re enjoying abundance. Our Lord always has an abundance to share, if we believe in him.
In today’s Gospel we see two acts of desperation mixed with faith that need a little encouragement. Jairus, despite his position in the synagogue, is not afraid to throw himself at Our Lord’s feet to beg the healing of his daughter. The hemorrhagic woman has tried everything and decides to take a risk on Our Lord being able to help her, but without exposing herself. Our Lord permits circumstances that help them close the gap between what they want–healing–and what they need to get it: faith.
The hemorrhagic woman wants something good, and she received it, but she didn’t entirely go about it the right way. Touching a rabbi in her state was considered under Mosaic Law a ritual defilement of Jesus. She sought healing from Jesus but wanted it on the sly: she didn’t want to be his disciple. Imagine her fear and shock when Jesus knew that someone had touched him and received healing from him. She couldn’t remain anonymous; God is not an ATM, and we shouldn’t treat him like one.
In this case, being open about her need and the miracle had another purpose: Jairus’ hopes had been dashed by the news that his daughter had died. Seeing what the hemorrhagic woman had received with little effort and, after a little coaxing, great courage, helped Jairus to have the faith and courage he needed for Jesus to work the miracle for his daughter as well in the face of an impossible situation.
Desperate times are supposed to call for desperate measures but turning to Our Lord in faith should not be an act of desperation; rather, it should be par for the course. That involves taking a risk at times. Jairus risked his reputation as a synagogue official, trusting in a Rabbi with miraculous powers with the hope of healing his dying daughter. The ailing woman risked being the fool when she believed she could touch Our Lord’s cloak and receive healing unseen. The hemorrhagic woman didn’t expect she’d have to explain herself in front of the crowds. Jairus didn’t expect that he’d be asking for his girl to return to life. They took a risk and had faith in Our Lord, and he blessed them beyond their expectations. Let’s also take a risk of faith. We won’t be disappointed.
Readings: Wisdom 1:13–15, 2:23–24; Psalm 30:2, 4–6, 11–13; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13–15; Mark 5:21–43. See also 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.