Recognising God’s healing power

27 June, 2021 13th Sunday, Year B

Is suffering part of human life? Does evil exist? Do we die? Of course, we are realists. We know all that is true in relation to ourselves and the millions of people who are refugees, victims of war and terrorism, the homeless and the lonely.

Today’s readings acknowledge these realities – sin and evil – but introduce us to another world of meaning. According to the Book of Wisdom, while all this pain and negativity is real, it was not part of God’s original plan. And yet, despite sin and suffering, we are told, “God made humanity in his own image” so that we are ‘imperishable’, ‘indestructible, ‘immortal’!

We are invited to have faith in Jesus, to look beyond the common-sense of the realists (who judge only what they can see, touch and verify), and to recognise the power of Jesus, the power of God, at work in our fragile human world. The Christian journey is one of learning to see with the “eyes of faith”.

The people of Jesus’ day were very much like us. They were doubters. When the woman says, “Who touched me?” the disciples’ response is almost insolent: “You see how the crowd is pressing on you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched you’?”.

In the case of Jairus’ daughter, when Jesus says, “She is asleep,” the disciples were surely among those who joined the crowd mocking Jesus for his presumed misjudgement.

Yet, we know from the story, Jesus does heal the woman and brings Jairus’ daughter back to life. So, for the Gospel writer Mark, if we are looking for models of faith we will do well to ignore the band of Jesus’ close disciples and look, instead, to the unnamed woman and Jairus who put their total faith in Jesus.

We are challenged to live our faith in Jesus in the real world where the divine power often seems so far from our experience. Our Christian faith is not primarily about a set of doctrines to believe in or commandments to follow, but a life journey to glimpse the reality of the divine mystery at work in our lives – even in the most adverse circumstances.

St Augustine tells us: “Christian virtue is not only a matter of doing good, but of tolerating evil as well.” Tolerating evil does not have to do simply with patience and resignation; it means imitating Jesus, carrying our burden, shouldering it for his sake and that of others. It means accepting the Cross, pressing on in the confident knowledge we are not alone: the crucified and risen Lord is at our side.

The gospel message of hope does not ignore or override the realities of suffering, sin and evil, but it refuses to see these as the “last word”. In fact, they are not finally real, because God overcomes all that is not God and will bring creation – including ourselves – to final victory. As the disciples said to Jesus on another occasion: “Lord increase our faith!”

© Gerard Hall SM© Majellan Media 2021