Twenty First Sunday
Who has not been in desperate set of circumstances for the help of our Lord? What has the power to bring you to your knees pleading? And how do you feel; how do you approach with a deep, pressing set of circumstances in need? Welcome? Unworthy? A bother?
How we would all long to sit at the feet of the Lord in heaven and hear him describe personally his earthly experience! We would love to hear the missing, intriguing details, to hear and learn what He was thinking when certain events happened. And the gospel narrative we heard today is one which will excite us at that time.
Upon his return from the lake, a crowd greeted him. In the preamble introduction to today's narrative, St. Luke says they were all expecting him. While we dearly love surprise encounters with Jesus, it is far truer that He is quite pleased when we live out our lives in expectancy for his goodness and kindness. We are introduced today to a major player who did not come just to welcome Jesus. He came desperate for Jesus. Jairus was a ruler of a synagogue, but this day no ritual dignity stood in his way. His daughter lay dying, and he threw himself at the feet of the Lord, pleading for her life.
Today we learn how our all-powerful and mighty God is attracted to weakness and vulnerability. He cannot resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him. This certainly described Jairus on this day who also reminds us of the centurion in another instance (Luke 7). He seemed to understand the concept of authority because of his own authoritative position. He seemed to grasp that one ruler existed before whom all others should bow, even if one of these "others" was ruler of the synagogue himself.
If we were to ask any set of parents how much they focus on their child when he or she is sick or in some kind of serious danger or threatening distress, they would tell you they can hardly focus on anything else. This was certainly the case with Jairus. Jesus is his last hope. Who else could free this little girl from the throes of death? To whom else could he go in desperation? Even his pride, his position, his status could be forgotten, even abandoned if there was the realistic prospect of resisting the advance of separation in life with his beloved daughter. Whom do you know that is possibly down on his or her very last hope? Perhaps, like the rest of us, you know several, possibly even including yourself. Think of these people and keep them in your peripheral vision of prayer today as well as tomorrow. Included is the lesson urgently needed by so many when they seem to be busy and readily dismiss a legitimate need because of their own preoccupation. Here the Lord shows his patience and while going to respond to the request of Jairus is confronted by another equally legitimate and serious urgency. While going to work one miracle, He easily works another on the woman suffering with hemorrhage. Suddenly He assures her, "Daughter it is your faith that has cured you. Now go in peace" Luke 8: 48.
There is a difference between those who suffer bitterly and those who suffer well and we see it demonstrated today. She quietly, almost in desperation approaches the Lord. We heard read that the crowd pressed so closely to Jesus they were almost crushing him. Yet a woman behind him touches only the edge of his cloak and he discerns the difference. Grace passes from him to her. Divine energy finds its way into the damaged body of the petitioning woman. She never touched his body. Amazing! Notice, too, that when inquiringly asking, "Who touched me?" all denied it. Odd, isn't it? The people were so close they almost crushed him, but no one would admit it. Didn't they realize He wanted few things more than for them to reach out to him?
When the woman realizes she cannot go unnoticed, "she came trembling and fell at his feet" Luke 8: 47. What she did not realize is that no one goes unnoticed by our Lord, least of all the person acting in faith response to his first-shown love. The woman trembles even though she exercises enough faith to draw forth from him healing power. It is so good to see believers can still come trembling because their reverence is a critical part of their faith response. And the truly believing will most certainly also be lowly bowing. Why do you think Christ asked her to identify herself? Christ wants her to go away feeling good, knowing they have not stolen a gift. "Be of good cheer", He says, "I freely give it to you."
The Lord heals the woman of her difficulty and what is amazing He continues on to the house of Jairus Christ has released enough grace to heal her of a years-long hemorrhage, but still is not limited to share with the daughter of Jairus as He raises her from the dead. We should all permit that to sink into the depth of our souls. The supply power of our God is limitless. He does not have a limited number of wishes to grant like we learn from the popular Wizard of Oz. His power and mercy are infinite. He can take us much farther than Kansas if we only exercise true faith!
Today's gospel narrative invites to approach our heavenly Father because He has enough power/grace to go around. If we exercise our faith, we can witness in our own lives some type of wonder. Just as the Lord was on his way to another wonder after leaving the woman, and approaching the home of Jairus, so He also can come to us. He is always on his way to work a miracle if we invite him and then allow him. Jesus may be on his way to another sign more important than yours, but He will come to you as well. You have a matter of life and death? No problem! Need some uplifting and encouragement? No problem! Reach out and grab that hem. You will not be unnoticed, not even if He is on the way to raise the dead! Christ is able and Christ is willing. If you do not perceive receiving what you ask for, it is not because He cannot or that He lacks the power. It more readily is because He desires to release an allsurpassing power and reveal an even greater glory through another answer. Then we will laugh at the thought like the foolish mourners in the home of Jairus. And we may be invited into the house to behold a greater and more astounding , perhaps more needed miracle!