Healing of Jairus’ Daughter
In today’s Holy Gospel we hear of the healing of Jairus’ daughter… and not just a healing from sickness, but a much more radical healing… her resurrection from the dead.
Christ and His disciples had just returned from their visit to the country of the Gadarenes and, as the news of Christ’s fame and good works was growing, they were surrounded by a multitude who awaited Him – so many seeking healing and comfort.
We are told that a man named Jairus, a respected ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house and heal his daughter, who was deathly ill. Jairus approached Christ with hope and faith that He could heal his only daughter and make her well. There was urgency in his voice as he knew that she might not have long to live. Christ heard his desperate request and agreed to come to his house, promising to make his daughter well again.
But before they were able to come to the house, the news reached them that Jairus’ daughter had died. There was no longer any need to trouble the Master, for all hope was lost.
But when Jesus heard the news of this death, He answered saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’ Christ enters the home and insists that the child is not dead, but only sleeps. All the mourners assembled there mocked Him. And yet, He enters the room of the dead child and at His life-giving word, He restores her to life and to health.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how providential that we hear this Gospel today! For this is a Gospel of hope in the face of dark circumstances, of seeming hopelessness.
We find ourselves today once again faced with the closing of our churches. I know that this is a bitter and sorrowful trial for us all. And the situation is not made any easier by the debate on how questionable these lockdowns are as a response to the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, we are faced with these mandates… and we will have to navigate our way through them attending to doing the best we can for the physical and spiritual health of our community. For now, we must go back to livestreaming the services and I can assure you that Fr Andrew and I will do everything we can to minister the Sacraments to you during this time.
We are moving into the winter months and I expect that things with this virus will go from bad to worse for a while. The lockdown restrictions being forced upon so many businesses and the isolation of people from one another – especially as we move into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays seasons – such isolation will surely create even greater waves of depression and frustration upon many people. And as if these things were not enough, we are also seeing tremendous tensions within our society as a result of the elections. It is a trying time for our nation, for our communities, for our parish, for our families, and for each of us as individuals.
And so how should we, as Orthodox Christians, respond to all of this? Let us take our lesson from today’s Gospel.
Let us think of poor Jairus, who so urgently and desperately sought the help of our Lord Jesus Christ to save his sick daughter, and whose home was now filled with mourners who wailed lamentations for his dead child. He surely must have felt that all hope was lost! But Christ overcame the hopelessness, just as He had in so many occasions.
Recall also the disciples on their boat in the sea. On more than one occasion, they found themselves among stormy waters, and the waves crashed against their boat, and it seemed that all would be lost. On one occasion, Christ was there, peacefully sleeping at the helm of the boat. When awakened, He simple spoke a word and the storm was calmed. On another occasion, He walked upon the waters to His beloved ones and calmed the seas once again.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ! The devil and the world are sending waves to crash against the vessel of our faith. Church life is once again disrupted and destabilized. Our world is living in the fear of this pandemic, our nation is living through times of incredible instability and challenge. It is very easy to find ourselves losing hope and becoming weary and exhausted from the anxieties of the day.
How will we respond? Will the stormy waters drag us down or will we keep our eyes focused on Christ? Because if we do retain our focus, we can walk upon the stormy waves as if they were dry land. We must have confidence and know Who is truly in charge of all things. It is Christ our Lord.
If we have to endure some trials and tribulations for a time, well then, let us endure those trials in a manner that does not threaten or weaken our faith, but that calls us to arms! Now is the time to deepen our prayers, to be at attention spiritually to see the reality of what is going on. As we may be faced with greater instability in this world, let us create stability in our life through greater attention to our daily prayers, reading the scriptures, and nourishing our soul.
God grant that each of us can be a little candle of hope – for ourselves and for those around us. How can we give birth to this hope?... What are the two virtues that the Holy Church ties so closely to hope?... Faith and love. Faith and love are required if we are to have the humility and the courage to dare to hope. We must have faith in God’s ability to make possible the impossible. And we must have love, knowing first of all how much God has loved us, and with grateful hearts extending our love back to Him.
Let us stand aright, let us stand well, let us attend to the things of God! Let us stubbornly cling to hope! Let us take our lead from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who boldly and with great faith ignored the cynical mockery of those ‘who knew better’, of those who believed in death.
The pessimism and mockery of this world gains strength day by day… but this world desperately needs those who will retain their faith, their hope, and their love. For these are the pillars upon which everything good is supported. May God grant us the strength and the courage to hope against hope and to place all things in the capable hands or our Lord.