One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ earthly ministry was healing the sick. In the Gospels we read that Jesus’ reputation gradually grew that wherever He went, people brought the sick to Him, and He healed them – people brought to Him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralysed, and He healed them.
Biblical scholars point out that there are “37 miracles” of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels, and two-thirds of these involved Him healing someone. The last words in John’s Gospel (cf. Jn 21:25) tells us what we read in the Gospel only represents a fraction of what Jesus did during His three-year earthly ministry, so in reality there are likely to have been many, many more miraculous healings than what has been recorded – an indication of how integral healing was in the public ministry of Jesus. Many of these “events” dealt with more than just physical healing as they also included setting right theological issues of sin, salvation, and faith.
In our Gospel this Sunday, we hear that Jesus is on His way to heal the daughter of Jairus. Suddenly Jesus says He is aware of power leaving Him when He says, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ Despite the fact that there was a crowd pressing around Him, Jesus realised that something quite different from the normal collisions of shoulders and elbows had happened and He was going to use this opportunity to instruct His disciples.
The healing of the daughter of Jairus and the woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years is going to be pivoted on the faith of these people who came to Jesus. To the woman Jesus says, “your faith has restored you to health”, and to Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only have faith”.
Today, in one long passage, we get to look at one scene where Jesus demonstrates His amazing power. Though one woman is 12 years old with a life threatening fever and the other woman is older and has twelve-year old disease, both, these accounts in one seamless encounter, express incredible faith. While Jairus was brave to approach Jesus and ask for healing, the woman was too afraid to approach Jesus directly. It didn’t matter to Jesus since all that was needed was faith and He saw “great faith” in both of them.
If the Gospel last Sunday hinged of the disciples asking, “Lord, do you not care?”, the Gospel this Sunday provides the clearest answer, He does care. He cares more than we could ever imagine. The faith of Jairus and the unnamed woman offers us great hope in these challenging times. Despite the many similarities in both these healing accounts, what stands out is the determination – nothing was going to deter them from approaching Jesus, neither the high office that Jairus held in the synagogue nor the crowds that was pressing against Jesus which would have made it difficult for this woman to approach Jesus.
In our journey of faith, we need a similar determination in times like these. Determination, persistence and commitment must be the qualities that guide us through these turbulent times. These qualities may be difficult to possess when everything around us seems to be crowding us out from seeing and feeling Jesus in turbulent times. It may be difficult to listen for His voice because of the barrage of conflicting emotions which is normal in these times.
However, what we need to do more regularly now than before is to take a few steps back and quieten ourselves, the words that Jesus may be saying to us is, “Talitha kum” – Jesus is inviting us to rise-up above our fears, uncertainties, and frustrations and recognise that He does care. Just as Jesus met Jairus and the woman in their pain, He meets us in our vulnerabilities, fears, frustrations, and even anger.
Therefore, do not be afraid to turn to Him in faith just like the disciples when encountering the storm, the woman who only intended to touch Jesus’ cloak, and Jairus who turned to Jesus in His hour of need. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut 31:6).
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (27 June 2021)