“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.
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 him, “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.”
Today’s gospel presents us with, at first glance two very different people, on opposite ends of the social ladder—Jarius, a wealthy synagogue official, a person of status, of public standing, and a person with an entourage wherever he went, on one hand, and on the other, an old woman, poor, broken, bleeding, and very much at death’s door. She could no doubt die with little fan fare. No one would even know that she was gone.
These two people while very much from different social worlds shared two things in common, the first thing they had in common was their incredible suffering; for Jarius, his sick and dying daughter—a parent’s worst nightmare to be sure, and for the old woman—bleeding that hadn’t stopped and couldn’t be stopped for twelve years! Both of them had great suffering in common, but they also had something else, an insurmountable faith in Jesus Christ, in His concern for them in their suffering, and in His power to transform their suffering and death into life and joy—they had expectant faith that made them both people of hope—and hope in the Lord never disappoints.
The Gospel today teaches us the truth that Jesus gives us hope where there seems to be no human cause for it. He spoke words of hope to the woman when he said, “Take heart, daughter your faith has made you well!” And Jesus also gave hope to a father who had just lost a beloved child, he tells the father, “Do not be afraid, just have faith,” even while others around him mocked.
In both instances we see Jesus’ personal concern for the needs of others and his readiness to heal and restore life. In Jesus we see the infinite love of God extending to each and every individual as he gives freely and wholly of himself to each person He meets—regardless of their wealth or public standing. And that is our example and model. We must ask ourselves if we too give ourselves in loving service to others? To those of wealth or public standing first or to all those in need that we meet? God does not play favorites—nor should we.
Let us always approach our Lord with confident expectation that he will hear our request and act. And let us pray also that His love for each of us and his willingness to heal and restore us, we too might in turn give ourselves wholly and unconditionally in loving service to others in need—regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what they have to offer, following in the footsteps of the Irish Christian Brothers’ founder, Blessed Edmund Rice.