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Great Things (even from from little faith) – Br. Robert L'Esperance

Jairus came and fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” Mark 5:22-23

Like any parents in a similar situation, Jairus and his wife would try most anything to save their child. There was no pediatric intensive care unit in which the child could be treated in their day. There were physicians, but they were few and far between, and maybe just as well. Remember how the woman who was healed of an issue of blood had “suffered much under many physicians [for 12 years], and had spent all she had, and was no better and grew worse.” Jairus was one of the “rulers of the synagogue,” an elder. He undoubtedly had heard how Jesus had healed the paralyzed man in Capernaum and blasphemed in saying that his sins were forgiven. Jairus would know of Jesus’ work on the Sabbath: the many healings, allowing his disciples to pluck grain, all of it a flagrant violation of Jewish law. Jesus was controversial, accused of “consorting with Beelzebul, the prince of demons.” Jairus was desperate and courageous enough to risk his reputation in his act of supplication at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus was not trying to enhance his reputation as a faith healer. Often he says to give God the glory and leave him out of it. Jesus’ miracles reveal something of what he calls “the Kingdom of God.” Jesus was not out to heal everyone, then or now, but to save us from sin and death, the greatest healing of all. When he opened eyes, he showed how God opens our eyes to see him more clearly. When he opened ears, he showed how God opens ears to hear the voice of God – in scripture, in prayer, in each other, in creation. When he healed the lame, he showed how God strengthens us when we are weak.

In the Gospels, those who seek Jesus’ healing initiate the conversation with him. They reach out to Jesus in an uninhibited way, with all their heart. If Jairus had hung back and sat on his faith – if his faith were just a status symbol, a social identification badge, or a “correct” set of theological principles – he would still be sitting there today! Tragically, his daughter would have died. Jairus reached out to Jesus, and touched his heart. His expectant faith was rewarded by the healing of his daughter. When we reach out with expectant faith, Jesus will not ignore us. He hears us! He answers us – not always in the ways we expect nor when we want – but he does answer in our own times of trial.

Many times when Jesus heals he says to the person, “Your faith has made you well.” Here there is no mention of the little girl having any faith whatsoever. It is often hard for children or for people who are seriously ill to have faith. Sometimes it is hard for those who love them and care for them day after day to have faith as well. This is where the whole faith community has the opportunity to intercede on behalf of the one who is sick. We carry that person to Jesus in prayer, bowing the knee of our hearts; praying earnestly what we feel in our hearts in seeking the healing of that person. And Jesus, to whom all desires are known and from whom no secrets are hid, will hear and answer according to his will of love.

It seems to me we should never say to a sick and suffering person, “If you only had more faith, you would be healed,” or, “Just claim your healing…” We don’t need much faith to accomplish great things, according to Jesus. He names the mustard seed, the tiniest of all seeds. All it takes is faith of the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain into the sea! If what we want with all our heart is for someone to be healed, then we should, as always, be honest with God and express this. We also must be prepared that God might say ‘no.’ (Sometimes in life we must say ‘no,’ and we have been created in the image of God, who sometimes says ‘no.’) If so, we may not understand it. We may not agree with it. But we can be sure that God will see us through it. God may have something else in mind for us, something better, in the fullness of time.  (God is certainly not going to let people go around throwing mountain ranges into the sea all the time!)

Remember the gospel story about the disciples rowing their boat across the Sea of Galilee and getting terrified when a sudden storm arose and the boat began to fill with water. Jesus was asleep on a cushion in the rear of the boat. When they awoke him, he stilled the storm. He said, “Peace. Be still.” It didn’t take much faith on the part of the disciples to awaken Jesus in the back of the boat, but when they did, he saved their lives. God is with us through the storms of our lives. God became one of us to show us that. And if we just have a little faith, just enough to call on him, we too can have our eyes opened, our hearing restored, our weaknesses overcome, and new life: the life of the Kingdom of God, the same life that raised Jairus’s daughter, anointing our lives. Watch for a miracle!

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