“Do not be afraid … Have Faith … Go in Peace”

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

WISDOM 1:13-15; 2:23-24

God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.

2 CORINTHIANS 8:7, 9, 13-15

Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also. For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.

MARK 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. 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. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” 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. 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. 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. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

As we approach the end of June, the life of the Church seems to have relaxed after all the intense preparations during Lent, and the joy and excitement of Easter and Pentecost, we fall comfortably back into the “ordinary times”. Just when we are about to “chill” from all the apocalyptic warnings about end times and stories about Jesus’ sacrifices and suffering, we are, once again, reminded of the unfathomable breadth, width, and height of God’s love in this week’s readings.

In this Sunday’s Gospel of Mark, we have the privilege of witnessing not just one, but two miracles; both of which reveal the mysterious life of God – the God of justice, fidelity, and most of all, unconditional love. The miracles happen in tandem with each other, revealing the immense depth and width of God’s mercy, as well as our mission as children of God, through the actions and words of His Son, Jesus. In the story, there are two primary players, a synagogue official and the other an outcast, a “woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years” (Mk 5:25). While one is a man who holds office in the synagogue, a highly respected and powerful position, the other is a woman, without any title, prestige, and power. Indeed, one cannot be more different from the other as day and night; however, both are healed by their faith. Jairus, the synagogue official, boldly walks up to Jesus and pleads “earnestly” for the healing of his daughter. The woman who is afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, perhaps too ashamed to approach Jesus, resolves to remain silent and hide in the crowd, content with only touching Jesus’ clothes. “Immediately her flow of blood dried up … she was healed of her affliction” (Mk 5:29). All around her, the large crowd continues to press upon Jesus while He and Jairus are probably still talking with each other. Her healing happens quietly without an audience. At least that’s what she thinks. While Jesus is on his way to Jairus’ house, He becomes aware that “power [has] gone out from him” and asks, “Who has touched my clothes” (Mk 5:30)? The woman, now exposed, is left with no option but to approach Jesus “in fear and trembling”; she falls down before the Healer and confesses. Instead of reprimanding her, Jesus commends her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction” (Mk 5:34). Not only is she healed physically but also spiritually! Indeed, as the Psalmist proclaims, God has “changed [her] mourning into dancing” (Ps 30:12). All her pain, loneliness, and shame have been wiped clean; she has received the gift of peace.

Jairus’ journey to healing has its twists and turns, too. While still some distance from his house, he is told that his daughter has died and that he should not “trouble the teacher any longer” (Mk 5:35). Jesus, sensing Jairus’ despair, said, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk 5:36). Jesus is not just saying it, He means it! Often, it is fear that stands between us and God; between doubts and faith. Like Jairus and the woman, we must take courage and choose faith. Just as the woman is healed by her faith, Jairus’ daughter is revived by the perseverance of Jairus’ faith. We may conclude that two healings have occurred here: the daughter’s and Jairus’ heart.

Such stories demonstrate the “gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ” that is rooted in love (2Cor 8:9). Whether one is rich or poor, powerful or powerless, Jesus heals without discrimination. In addition, St. Paul encourages us that “as you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also” (2Cor 8:7). Jesus, though “he was rich”, becomes poor for our sake (2Cor 8:9). He walks among the poor and the sick and lets his power flow out of him when needed. He understands our fear and despair; so He tells us “do not be afraid” (Mk 5:36). Jesus has laid out the roadmap for us to do the same for others. The Book of Wisdom reminds us that we are “formed to be imperishable” and are made in “the image of [God’s] own nature” (Wis 2:23). We do have the power and responsibility to uplift each other, so that “there may be equality”: “Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less” (2Cor 8:14-15). When we make sacrifices in the name of Jesus, we store up true treasures in heaven. When we willingly die with Christ, we may also rise with Him: “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rm 6:4).

God is, indeed, just and faithful who loves us unconditionally. Like the woman who is afraid to approach Jesus directly, may we take courage to believe and hang on to our faith. Jairus, whose faith is shaken when people tell him not to trouble Jesus any longer, enters his daughter’s room with Jesus anyway. He heeds Jesus’ words, “Do not be afraid” and “have faith”, and subsequently experiences two healings, his daughter’s and himself (Mk 5:36). When we feel weak and hopeless, let us cry out to Jesus, “help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). With faith, let us go in peace to love God and serve each other.

Posted: June 27, 2021

Susanna Mak

 
Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


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