Do Not Be Afraid


Today’s gospel comprises two distinct stories with no particular connection between them.  First, we have the raising of Jairus’s daughter to life and the second is the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage.  There are two miracle stories in this long extract from Mark and they demonstrate an important theme and characteristic of this gospel. The first thing we notice is that the story of the raising of the daughter of Jairus begins the sequence, but then is cut off as we consider the woman with the hemorrhage.  It quickly becomes apparent that the overarching theme is the need for faith. In the story of the woman, her willingness to trust in Jesus is total but by contrast the people in the house of Jairus laugh at him when he suggests the child is only asleep. Jesus tells the woman who touched him that her faith made her well, and to the people announcing the news of the death of the little girl he says: ‘Do not be afraid, only have faith.’ We have only already learned through the preaching of Jesus and his parables that the kingdom is present in his ministry and that it is both a gift and a challenge. Living by faith is the challenge but it is also the way to healing and new life for those who embrace the message with trust and confidence.

Someone once wrote to the poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, asking how he could come to know God. Hopkins wrote back with the simple answer: ‘Give alms.’ The God who wills us to live eternally cannot be known in theory or theology — he can only be truly known through love. That is our calling as Christians.’ If we understand that we have been made rich through the poverty of Jesus, then we cannot but reach out to others.  Let us always reach out in love and allow God’s love to fuel our lives.