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13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: A PATIENT FAITH TAGS ALONG

For a better exegesis and analysis of the scriptural meaning of this weekend's gospel passage, I will present it as a script with four scenes:

 

Art 1, Scene 1:

One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.


A few years ago, I worked as a chaplain at Johns Hopkins hospital which is a Trauma 1 Hospital . Patients are brought into the hospital in the most critical conditions – car accident victims, domestic accidents, falls, and critical conditions of various types. Families of those patients go through devastating mental and emotional conditions as they bring their relatives in for emergency treatment. Those families have a certain level of faith in the doctors to revive their sick one and make them live. Jairus comes and says to Jesus, “Please come and lay your hands on my daughter that she may get well and live.” But it didn’t happen that quick?

 

The first remarkable thing about the synagogue official is his boldness. He approaches Jesus with conviction and determination. The matter is a serious one, “My daughter is at the point of death.” The daughter is not just having a headache or stomach pain. She is a trauma 1 patient category. To approach Jesus, despite that his daughter is dying, means that this man believes in the powers of Christ to heal her daughter.

 

Art 1, Scene 2:

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

 

Along this journey, Jesus is intercepted by the woman with hemorrhages and begins to attend to her. My mind goes again to the trauma image in the hospital and I am wondering mostly about Jairus at this point. Imagine that this family relative has contacted the doctor in the desperate situation of her daughter and this doctor branches into another hospital room to address an urgent case that just arose. Then the daughter dies. In the case of Jairus, the dynamics of the situation obviously would change with the announcement that his daughter has died. They state it clearly, there is no need troubling the teacher. Is there any need still worrying Jesus? The human inclination as depicted by these individuals who bring the announcement to him is to give up hope.

 

Jesus’ message is clear, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” This is coming at the most critical time of the synagogue official’s life. His daughter is dead. But Jesus means it, “just believe!” It does not matter what the situation is. Jesus separates those who have faith from the naysayers, and takes with him Peter, James, and John. When Martha protested that Lazarus would be smelling after having stayed four days in the tomb, Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” (Jn. 11:40). Faith journey stretches those who believe.

 

Art 1, Scene 3:

When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.

 

A characteristic of a trauma situation is confusion and commotion. Such an atmosphere gives rise to conflicting voices that come with self-manufactured expert advice - suggestions, accusations, blames, pessimisms, and regrets, including unprofessional diagnoses. In Lazarus’ case, “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled” (Jn. 11:33).

 

It is easy to be ridiculed because of faith. The reason is that faith asks for the seemingly impossible. Faith goes against the humanly natural expectations. Faith dwells on what is not physical or visible. Being ridiculed because of faith is nothing unusual. You only have to hang in there and be patient. For this, John reminds us, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4). 

 

Art 1, Scene 4:

He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded.

 

Does it really matter when God steps into your situation? See how Jesus takes the parents of the child with him. Jesus will always walk with his own to testify to the power of God. Witnesses to the faith believe in God, not in magicians. These parents tag along and stay focused. This twelve year old child will rise by the power of the same voice that brought Lazarus back to life. It is the voice that speaks to the demons, that commands the sea and the storms. Let’s see God when things get tough.

 

LESSON: This gospel invites us to embrace a patient faith. As Christians, we journey with Jesus. There are definitely people whose relatives are arriving trauma centers in hospitals and struggling for survival at this moment. Others may be facing other types of trials. Unfortunately, too, tough situations generate commotion and confusion, including questions about God’s powers to do miracle. The Wisdom writer puts it, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living” (1:13). First, always remember that God’s plan for us is life and not death. Second, do not allow anyone make you feel like your faith is unreasonable. Do not succumb to ridicules. Do not let naysayers take advantage of your situation. Stay patient in faith. God does not overlook those who call on him. Yes, faith may stretch you, but God always has the last say.


Readings: 1st- Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24; 2nd- 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15; Gospel- Mk 5:21-43

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