THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
On this 13th Sunday in ordinary times, the Gospel tells the story of two faith journeys that were occasioned by severe circumstances in life. Both faith-journeys involved coming to Christ when life situations got to breaking points and beyond human solutions; when things became so desperate that the only hope left for a solution was God. The first was Jairus, who by his faith in Christ was moved from a sea of storms to the shores of peace. The other is the woman with the issue of blood, who by her faith in Jesus was moved from a life of unmitigated suffering to a life of health and wellbeing.
The question then is: what kind of faith brought these changes in the lives of these two people? I call it, “Believing Faith”. Believing faith is a relationship; it is a kind of faith that causes one to trust and to put one’s life into the hands of God, with an assurance of divine favor, so much so that one is ready to risk death, a hundred times, trusting in it. It is a kind of faith that connects with Jesus, and by that connection, refuses to doubt, to give up, or to go into unbelief. It is a kind of faith that latches unto Christ, trusting Him for something everyone else is powerless to do. Scripture says, “Whoever clings unto me I will deliver”. It is a kind of faith that believes that one’s adversity is God’s opportunity to glorify His Name. This is not a faith that is based on a wishful hope; it is faith that is based on God’s Word and God’s promises. Remember that the glory of God is in the fulfilment of His promises. So believing-faith listens to God’s word when He says, “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save…. Remember this and stand firm… I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (Ref. Isaiah 46:3-11).
Believing-faith requires certain behaviors. It requires negating the negativity of our environment and Nay -sayers. Neither Jairus nor the woman with the issue of blood cared about what the environment of their faith-seeking adventure could possibly hold out for them. Jairus, being a synagogue official, could have been sanctioned by the High Priest for putting his faith in Christ Jesus. The crowd could have had a lot to say about this woman, who, having suffered from an issue of blood for several years could be unclean in every aspect of human hygiene. Neither of them, though, cared. Their commitment was singularly focused—total faith in Christ Jesus. Our fears, what people will say, and our feelings about how peers and friends will react, can inhibit our journey to believing-faith.
Also, believing-faith requires that we counter pride and negative self-talk; the inner negative self-feelings that inhibit divine encounter. Believing-faith is a surrendering hope; a hopeful hope that believes, no matter what. While Christ was taking care of the woman with the issue of blood, a message came from Jairus' family that her daughter was dead and that there was no need to worry the Master. Christ turned to him and said, “Do not be afraid, but keep believing”. Doubt and loss of hope can inhibit our journey to believing-faith.
So, the key to “Believing Faith” is to keep believing; to keep believing when we are at our lowest point; when we are surrounded by dangers, with temptations and troubles all over the place; when nothing seems hopeful and there is no light in sight; when desperation sets in and sadness abound. In these moments, we must keep believing knowing that Jesus is near and that there is nothing to fear. If all were to be well all the time, where would be the cross, and where would be the fight; where would be our proof that we are tested and true. Scripture says, “My faithful one shall live by faith alone and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him” (Hebrew 10:38) and verse 39 says, “We are not among those who draw back and perish but of those who believe and are saved”. So, let us keep believing and never allow our faith to grow dim. Let us live above our feelings, never despairing, knowing that by trusting in God, victory will surely be ours. This is the power of believing-faith! Let us live by it and we will be surprised what the good Lord can do.