One great blessing I have at my parish is the presence of a wonderful retired priest who, I believe officiates one of the four masses on Sunday. He is a blessing, since he is clearly a biblical scholar and a gifted homilist.
I know he is a scholar by the things he relates in his homily. Father always helps us to understand the milieu of the gospel reading along with traditions and customs of the people. This does so much to enrich the story and enlighten the teaching.
Today, we learn of the daughter of Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman. First Jairus:
Jairus, we learn, is a man of some importance in the community. He is the president of the synagogue, and perhaps, from that we might conclude, the most important man in the town. He would be a leader, one that others looked to for advice and help, and certainly one of the major men of area.
Yet, he comes before Jesus and begs for his help. Jesus, we know, was traveling healer, not a professional physician. This would have been a step down for Jairus no doubt, demeaning himself before an itinerant preacher who was already perhaps catching the eye of the more conservative elements of the synagogue. Jesus was no doubt beneath his “station”.
Yet, a father’s love for his daughter, knows no bounds, and Jairus publicly pleads with Jesus to help his ailing girl.
Similarly, the hemorrhaging woman also steps far out of her place in society to plead her case. She has spent all her funds on the professional physicians to no avail. She, one might argue, is simply taking a “why not” approach when she reaches out to Him. But remember, this woman is ritually unclean–she is no better than a leper, a person who must avoid all other people, who lives alone in seclusion and is anathema to all.
She commits the unbelievable sin of deliberately reaching out to touch the Lord, even though the consequences might be very severe. Here fear of punishment is not outweighed by her hope that Jesus will consent to offer her help.
This too is Jairus’ conclusion. They are both afraid of the ridicule or worse for their temerity, yet both overcome their fear and reach out in hope and in faith that this healer than has been the talk of the town for some time may offer them help.
We are fearful. We all are, of many things. We are not all fearful of the same things, though no doubt we share many things to fear. Yet we all fear. We fear wisely and foolishly. We fear big things and little things. Fear is part of the human condition.
But faith overcomes fear. It is the antidote to fear. Fear paralyzes us and pushes us along pathways to error and yes even sin even as it saves us from objective physical danger as it was intended to do. We are afraid to do the right thing because we may be ridiculed, punished, or ostracized.
Jesus lives in us by virtue of our baptism. He comes to us in love and seeks to express that love through us. When we succumb to fear, Jesus can only remain as silent witness to our actions, he cannot take the reins as it were. By holding fast to faith, we give him the power to act through us. This is the reason why the woman and the man were able to be helped by Jesus lo those many years ago. Their faith overcame their reasonable fear at what that expression of faith might cost them in the community.
We are ever seeking the truth, and to speak that truth to the best of our abilities. We must overcome the fear that is normal when we deign to speak against the prevailing “truths” of our day, when in our heart we believe that Jesus is guiding us to a deeper truth. We must also reflect, study, and pray much that we in fact speak truth, and not some convenient self-centered truth that happens to work in our own interests. If we do these two things, we will always be aright I believe with God.
Remember, it is not being right that matters as much as having a rightly inclined heart and mind. God forgives our honest errors with much tenderness I believe. Fear is a wonderful thing to lose. Try it this week as you negotiate the vicissitudes of life, seeking through faith to do good in this world.
Mk 5: 21-43
- On the Journey of Jairus from Despair to Deliverence – A Homily on the Gospel for the 13th Sunday of the Year (adw.org)
- “Two, For The Price Of One!” – Mark 5:21-43† (sfodan.wordpress.com)