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30 January 2018

There is a lot to love in today’s Gospel, the raising of Jairus’s little girl and the healing of the woman with the haemorrhage. In both cases, Jesus addresses situations of intense personal suffering with a demonstration of the power of the kingdom of God, now breaking in to the world through His ministry.

Both stories are worthy of deep reflection, but for today, let’s settle for a brief consideration of a key attribute that Jesus looked for in those seeking His help: faith.

Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’

While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ 

Jesus looks for faith. There is something of a mystery here. Jesus, the Holy One on Whom the Spirit rests, surely possesses the power to heal and raise the dead regardless of the attitude of heart of those in need. Yet over and over again in the Gospels, we see this pattern repeated: the release of the power of God is related directly to the faith of those asking for help. The woman who had been bleeding non-stop for twelve years had faith in Jesus. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ Jairus had an even bigger challenge. He had been told that his little girl was already dead. Did he really believe Jesus could do the impossible? It seems the answer was yes.

St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 mentions a gift of faith. He lists it just before the gifts of healings and miracles. (1 Cor. 12.9-10) This is clearly something other than the general gift of faith that all who come to believe in Jesus possess. The charism of faith is something like a burst of sure hope and expectancy that God will work in power in a particular situation of great need. This is the faith that both the woman with the haemorrhage and Jairus exercised. It is a gift, not something you have to try to force or summon up by your own will power.

Do you need a miracle for someone in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the gift of faith that releases power in the name of Jesus. You never know what might happen next…
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