The Gospel this week is somewhat unique in that it begins with a synagogue official approaching Jesus and expressing his faith that Jesus could heal his daughter. In other Gospel accounts Jesus does not seem to be popular with religious officials. Most of the time when they are mentioned in the Gospels they come across as adversaries of Jesus and not supporters of Jesus. Nicodemus, who is mentioned early in John’s Gospel, comes under the cover of darkness so as not to be noticed by others, but by the end of the Gospel he is there at the cross to bury Jesus with Joseph of Arimathea. In this Gospel we have Jairus, the Synagogue official who is no doubt well known, coming right up to Jesus while he is in the midst of a crowd and saying, “My daughter is at the point of death, please come and lay hands on her, that she may get well and live.” Like any parent who finds themselves in a desperate situation this man is willing to try anything for the sake of his sick daughter. It is the same plea made today by fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and so many others, for God to come and intervene in some serious and tragic situation.
Jesus went with Jairus to his home and on the way encounters the woman who has been suffering for twelve years. In a similar desperate act of faith she reaches out and touches the garment of Jesus, and she is healed. Jesus knows that power has gone out from him and asked who touched him, and when the women admitted that it was she, Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” Jesus and Jairus continue their journey, but before they arrive word reaches Jairus that his daughter is dead. Jairus begins to send Jesus on his way, but Jesus insists on continuing and proclaims, “The child is not dead but asleep.” They reach the house that is now filled with mourners, and Jesus goes in and heals the girl.
Accounts like these show us the healing power of Jesus. It is not a power that comes as a result of some magic formula, or one that we control, it comes from Jesus. The healing power of Jesus is present for us today and many times his healing comes to us through the Sacraments. I have seen people healed, strengthened or comforted by the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, by the reception of the Eucharist, by Absolution in the Sacrament of Penance, and so on to each of the Sacraments. Others are healed through prayers and devotions. It is Jesus who pours out his healing upon us in the way he sees is most needed by us.
The readings teach us not to be shy about approaching Jesus for healing. Neither Jairus nor the Woman held back in their desire for Jesus to attend to their needs. Because we don’t know how Jesus will respond, or if he will respond according to our will, we might hesitate to ask. Faith involves taking the risk and reaching out to Jesus and trusting in his will. It is an act of Faith that Jesus’ will be done. At times what Jesus sees we need, and what we think we need are not the same. Faith in Jesus involves believing that he hears our prayers, our cries for help and he answers them. He does so in his way, either dramatically or quietly and in his time.
Let us not hesitate to put our needs for healing, whether for ourselves or others, before Jesus. May we have the faith to pray boldly trusting that God’s will results in our ultimate healing.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.