Preached by Msgr Philip Heng, SJ
at Church of St Ignatius – Singapore
on 28 June 2015
When our faith is being tested and when things in our lives do not go the way we expect them to; especially when the people who are closest to us or the people whom we have trusted so fully have turned against us, or when our financial securities or our reputation are suddenly shaken and tarnished, or when our good health have suddenly taken for a turn, “Do we allow our emotions to overpower us, or are we still able to find peace in our hearts because our faith in Jesus is deep enough to sustain us?”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, these are some of the common and basic questions that we have in our life’s experiences. These questions are concrete challenges of our faith that have to be addressed and cannot be brushed aside. This is because if we were to brush aside such raw and deep realities of our human experiences, then we are not living the faith that we are called to live as we ought to by Jesus. If we do not face these painful realities of our lives by seeking the Truth of the Gospel, then we will eventually not only fool others, but end up fooling ourselves, and destroying the deep peace that Jesus wants to give us.The context of the accounts of the raising Jairus’ twelve year old daughter and the woman who was cured of her haemorrhage for twelve years, is that Mark the evangelist has masterfully sandwiched these two events between Jesus calming of the storm (4:35-41) and His visit to His hometown of Nazareth (6:6a), where in both instances, Jesus found the faith in Him to be lacking. As such, these two accounts of today’s Gospel are to urge us to renew and deepen our faith in Jesus, as Jairus and the woman suffering from haemorrhage did; we have much to learn from them.
Jairus, as a father, must have been so filled with anxiety and desperation that to humble himself before Jesus in public was the least of his concerns. The cure of his daughter was of utmost importance to him. So, in spite of being a high ranking synagogue official, with great humility, and deep faith in Jesus’ divine power, he falls at the feet of Jesus and pleaded with Him to cure his dying daughter. His faith and hope were not shattered even though some people from his house gave him the shocking news that his daughter had just died. He remained steadfast in his faith. And when Jesus overheard this and said, “Do not be afraid, only have faith,” Jairus drew great strength from Jesus’ Words and believed strongly in Jesus.
The woman who was suffering from haemorrhage for twelve years was also desperate; having such an illness was considered unclean and was not to come into contact with the public. However, as she strongly believed that if she could even just touch the clothes of Jesus, she would be cured. So, she braved the crowds, broke all sociological barriers and reached out to touch Jesus. In doing so, her faith brought about the release of divine power in Jesus, and she was cured instantly.
My sisters and brothers in Christ, “What about us”? Do we have such deep faith when we are faced with painful challenges in our lives? Perhaps, the sharing of the true story of Carol Tenman would help us reflect on the experiences of our faith more fully.
I will adapt Carol’s sharing for the needs of my homily due to time constraints. Carol shares, “I live in Canada. I'm a mother of an 8 month old beautiful girl. When I was 5 months pregnant I got laid off from my job and a month after my baby was born my husband got laid off, too. We've been looking for jobs and we still can't find any. I was so angry with God because our financial status was so bad. We are in debt and the unemployment (social support) we are getting now is hardly (enough). I even don't have enough money to go to the dentist. So I was so angry with God. My husband and I fought with God all the time. We told Him that we hate Him and that He doesn't exist and lots of stuff like that.
I've also always asked Jesus to show Himself to me and it always made me so angry that He never did, but today I realized that I don't have to see Him to be able to feel His love and grace. I realized that I already have Him inside of me all the time. I've never seen Him because I've over concentrated on my own problems and thus, on fighting with Him, and thinking that He has forgotten about me.
However, over the past months, this love for Jesus has assured me that He has a plan for me and that He will somehow will always take care of me and my family’s needs. As I share this story I am writing in tears. I regret saying all the angry words to Jesus. I feel so sad that I have hurt Him and didn’t have enough faith in Him. I have so much peace now. I'm even so happy and have no more worries. I feel the Holy Spirit has filled me and I don't care about tomorrow because I know God is holding my hand. I love you Jesus! You are my everything!”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, Carol has come a long way in her faith; from being angry with God and expecting God to solve all her problems in life to finding that Jesus is her everything in life. And so, when Carol shared that she “is so at peace and happy, and that she doesn’t even care about tomorrow, she is not being simplistic about her faith; her bills and daily material needs still remain.
However, at a deeper level, Carol is saying to you and me that through her trials and pain, her relationship with Jesus had changed for the better and that she has discovered that Jesus never fails us, if our faith in Him is deep enough.
And so my brothers and sisters in Christ, as I conclude, let us be reminded that the trials and pains in life whether they are those of Jairus or the woman suffering from serious illness, or Carol’s suffering from great financial difficulties in their lives, we are each called by Jesus in today’s Gospel to trust in Him even more deeply when things in our lives are testing our faith. Instead of losing our faith and getting angry with God and with people in our lives and blaming them – which is very easy, but will not do any good or solve any of our problems, we are each called to hold firmly to our faith in Jesus even more deeply.
Jesus will never fail us. He only knows how to love us with a love that is deeply and divinely Compassionate, and we can all trust in Him. If not Him, who can we truly trust? Human trusts is often fragile and fallible, and cannot guarantee that it was always be faithful, for we are all sinners. However, God’s Love in Jesus will always be faithful and will last for all eternity.
Msgr Philip Heng,S.J.
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