I recently read a daily reflection that made the following point: “Just as nature abhors a vacuum, Jesus abhors vagueness.” In one sense it is easy to speak in generalities and vagueness in regards to faith and God. “Yes, I love God. I love all people. I want to help and serve everyone. I want peace for the whole world.” It is easy to say these things in the general sense but how do we live in the particular moment? Can I show love to the person I don’t like or understand? Can I be patient in a chaotic moment of family life? Can I take time to pray even though the demands of the day seem unceasing? Can I choose hope even in a time of pain and loss? Can I seek justice in moments of injustice? Can I turn the other cheek even when I am wronged? It is not in speaking nice generalities but rather in the choices of particular moments that the Kingdom of God is found.
One of the teachings of the gospel for today is that our Lord does not disdain the particular. In fact, he chooses to enter into the particular moment as a privileged place of encounter. The gospel gives us two particular moments where Christ is present in his healing grace – the woman with the bleeding disorder and the young girl. We are told that the woman had the disorder for twelve years and that the girl was “a child of twelve”. The use of “twelve” links the older woman and the young girl. For a woman to have a bleeding disorder in Hebraic culture meant that she was perpetually unclean and that she could not have children which would be seen as a great dishonor. The young girl dies at the age of betrothal and near the time she can have a child. Both are tragic and particular circumstances where life is painfully denied. Into both of these particular tragedies Christ enters in and he brings light and healing!
Christ says to Jairus, “Do not be afraid: just have faith.” Christ says the same to us and we must take these words to heart, especially in those moments of struggle and tragedy in life. “Do not be afraid…” Christ is neither separated from pain nor struggle. Christ does not disdain the particular. Christ is even in those moments of pain and he is there with life, healing, peace and hope.
The Book of Wisdom tells us “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living … God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world…” In the miracles presented in the gospels – the healing of the sick, the casting out of demons, the walking on water in the midst of a storm and the raising of the dead – we are taught that Christ as Lord has overcome all the forces of chaos and evil that would wound and kill body and spirit. We are also shown that God does not fear these moments and is willing to be present within these particularly tragic moments of human life offering his life, healing and grace.
We are not abandoned. Christ is with us. When the storms of life threaten to drown us, Christ is there. When the divisions caused by evil wear us down and threaten to overcome us, Christ is there. When illness and pain break us down, Christ is there. When death shatters us, Christ is there. Our God has overcome all these forces of evil and death. He does not fear them nor does he disdain the particular moment we find ourselves in. Christ is there for us in his life, his healing and his grace and he says to us, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”