Do Not Be Afraid; Just Have Faith

In today’s Gospel account Jairus, the synagogue official came begging Jesus to cure his daughter who was at the point of death.  Even though she was still alive, like the woman with the hemorrhage, she was beyond the help of any earthly power.  Jairus’ request showed that he was a man of faith who believed in the power of Jesus to bring about healing.

When Jesus was told of the girl’s death, he ignored the messenger and continued on.  Those who said that Jairus should no longer trouble the teacher, along with those at the house who were weeping, had an attitude of hopelessness.  Jesus’ serene hope contrasted sharply with the despair of those around him.  Jesus simply urged Jairus to have faith, faith that even in death his daughter was not out of reach of his power.  “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

The faith of Jairus was rewarded with Jesus restoring his daughter back to life.  There is such tenderness and compassion in the scene, and Jesus showed great love for the little girl and her parents.

What are we to make of this story?  We have to ask what the early Christians made of it as they too suffered sickness, and members of their community were dying off.  For Mark and his readers the story was a manifestation of the power of the Risen Lord to dominate even death itself.  Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!  Faith in Jesus has the power to transform life, and is victory over death.

Those who believe in Jesus come to understand the reality that death is only a sleep from which he will awaken them.  In the case of most Christians, this awakening will not happen in this life, but in the world to come.  The early Christians described the dead as “sleeping” because they believed that they would one day be awakened, just as people who are asleep are awakened.  The word the early Christians used for a burial place, “koimeterion,” means “a sleeping place,” from which our word “cemetery” comes.

The stories of the woman suffering from hemorrhages being cured, and the daughter of Jairus being restored to life, show that, even when, humanly speaking, there is no hope, the power of God can prevail over sickness and even death itself.  The Gospel, the good news, assures us that this power is present in the Lord Jesus.

The nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet, and the spear that pierced his side, are   visible and eternal wounds of the love of the Shepherd for his sheep.  These wounds, now glorious, are powerful, in that, from them, flows healing into the members of the Body of Christ, the Church. 

May the words of Jesus to Jairus echo in our ears and be imprinted on our hearts.  “Do not be afraid; just have faith!”

— Fr. Dennis, July 1, 2018