Read Wisdom 1:13-24, Psalm 30:2-13, 2nd Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43
“And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’ But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’” (Mark 5:34-36)
Last Sunday, we read from Mark’s Gospel, how Jesus told his disciples to enter a boat and cross to the other side knowing that evening had come and that there would be a storm that night. Jesus, being such a wonderful teacher wanted his disciples to have this experience to strengthen their faith in the face of very scary situations.
In the midst of the panic, the disciples were surprised to see Jesus sleeping and the cushion, and when they woke Him, He not only spoke to the winds and the sea, He said to them: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” In today’s Gospel passage, we hear something very similar from the lips of Jesus, this time, He addressed the synagogue official whose daughter was feared dead: “Do not fear, only believe.” This brings us to our lessons for today:
1. Fear and Faith do not mix.
While fear is about expecting the worst to happen, faith is expecting the best to happen. When the disciples woke Jesus, they voiced their fear: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (Mark 4:38). They were expecting the worst. If you want to know the extent of your faith, examine the kinds of words you use in speaking about your situation.
When Jesus was close to the synagogue official’s house, some men came from his house saying: “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" (Mark 5:35). The statement of these men represents another kind of fear, the fear that there are certain things God cannot do; the fear that in certain situations, prayers do not work.
While it seems very reasonable to expect the worst possible outcome, the Good News for us today is that no matter how bleak and gloomy our situation appears, we can change it by our Faith. That is to say, if only we start to expect a better outcome and commit the matter to God, we can change our situation.
2. Fear keeps us in the Crowd, Faith makes us stand out.
Whether you like it or not, there are more fearful people in the world than people of faith. Yes, fear is more popular than faith. People would rather live with all kinds of fear than faith. All through the Gospels, those who had personal encounters with Jesus were those whose faith was strong enough to bring them out of the crowd.
As we read in our Gospel passage, a great crowd gathered about Jesus but out of this great crowd, one man, Jairus, fell at Jesus’ feet (prostrating himself in worship) while imploring Jesus to cure his little daughter. He got the attention of Jesus.
Again while a great crowd was pressing around Jesus, one woman said to herself: “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” (Mark 5:28). Her faith was so strong that power left Jesus even when He was not prepared to heal. Jesus had to stop to ask: “Who touched me?” Dear friends: “Is your faith strong enough to touch Jesus?”
3. Fear destroys us, Faith heals and uplifts us.
After the woman had owned up about her action, Jesus said something very beautiful to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34). This teaches us that Faith, by itself is capable of making us well. On the other hand, fear which hides under the guise of negativity only makes our situation worse.
Even natural science shows us that depression, hopelessness, and extreme sadness secrete certain enzymes into our bodies that are capable of making sicknesses worse or developing psychological complications. Fear attracts more negativity into our lives and prevents us from receiving the miracles God plans for us. When Jesus went to his own hometown, the people there were so negatively minded towards Him that “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6)
When the men brought bad news to Jairus, Jesus did not even allow Jairus to respond before saying: “Do not fear, only believe.” And upon getting to his house, Jesus drove out all who were weeping loudly and speaking negatively. Mark tells us that Jesus put them all outside. The book of Hebrews tells us: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) If God is not pleased with us like these faithless sympathizers, he would push us outside.
Dear friends, to receive what God desires for you, you must drive away so-called friends who come to laugh at you pretending to be mourning with you; friends who only see negative outcomes and never expect anything good in your future; friends who kill your dreams by telling you that your ideas are impossible or unrealistic; friends who tell you that Jesus cannot help you; friends who have no faith. You must clear your inner space and welcome only Jesus by creating time for personal prayer and reflection daily. The healing only happened when Jesus was alone with the child and her parents.
4. Fear makes us stingy and self-centered; Faith makes us kind and generous.In today’s second reading, St. Paul admonishes the Corinthians: “Now as you excel in everything -- in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us -- see that you excel in this gracious work also. … For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich… As a matter of equality, your abundance at the present time should supply their want…” (2 Corinthians 8:7-14).
St. Paul demands generosity from the Corinthians because he knows that they excel in faith. Generosity is always a product of faith. Once upon a time, Jesus sat opposite the treasury in the synagogue and noticed how people were giving. His attention was drawn to a woman who gave what seemed to everyone like a small amount but Jesus commended her because it was all she had. (Mark 12:41-44)
For this woman to have given all she had, it means she trusts completely in God’s providence. In a sense, she behaved like the widow at Zarephath who was gathering sticks to make the last morsel of bread for her and her son but still had faith to make some for Elijah. (1 Kings 17:8-15) Her jar of meal did not run out and her oil was never spent.
Conclusion: Have Faith. God is Stronger than Death
Our first reading this morning says: “God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living.” If Jesus could raise a dead girl to life, it is clear proof that He has power over life and death and we have no reason to fear anymore after we have prayed or committed an issue into His Hands.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, increase my faith, save me from faithlessness and negativity. Strengthen my prayer life that my words may not contradict my heart. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Wisdom 1:13-24, Psalm 30:2-13, 2nd Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43).