Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday in the 4th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
In Him Alone…

Readings: Hebrews 12:1-4; Psalm 22:26b-27, 28 and 30, 31-32; Mark 5:21-43

Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection…

Following from where we left off yesterday, our readings continue to help us deepen our meditation on the need to remain focused on the Lord. We are presented with three images of what it might look like when people try not to lose sight of Jesus.

The first is the haemorrhaging woman in the crowd. In densely populated Singapore it’s perhaps easy for us to imagine what it must have been like for her. She wants so desperately to be healed. Yet there she is in the midst of a jostling crowd, trying her level best to keep the Healer in her sights, to at least remain within arms’ length of him, just so she can touch his clothes. Undaunted by the difficulties that beset her, and full of hope, she reaches out courageously… and is rewarded...

Then there is Jairus the synagogue official. One can only imagine his anxiety as he too battles the crowds for the sake of his critically ill daughter. But there are more obstacles in his path than a jostling crowd. There are those who try to dissuade him when his daughter dies: why put the Master to any further trouble? There are the professional mourners who laugh at the One in whom he has placed his hope. There are also, we might imagine, the interior obstacles within Jairus himself – doubts as to whether or not Jesus can really do anything for his dead daughter, temptations to discouragement and despair. But Jesus dispels these even as he turns out all the mourners and detractors and enters the place where the child lay. And where once there was only death and mourning, Jesus brings forth the joy of new life. Talitha kum!

The central lesson in these two stories is captured by what Jesus says to the woman with the haemorrhage: your faith has restored you to health. In the midst of every obstacle that life might place in our path it is faith in the Lord that brings the wholeness and healing and fullness of life for which we yearn.

Even so, it doesn’t all depend on us. The spiritual life is populated not just by crowds of detractors, but also with a great host of companions and supporters. For example, in the first reading we are presented with the image of a long-distance race. Except that we are not running the race alone. We are surrounded by many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, encouraging us, praying for us, inspiring us by their example, to continually set our sights on the prize that awaits us, even as we revel in their companionship. They too have run the race. They too have staked everything on the One who endured the cross. Also, don’t we also find encouragement and inspiration from one another? Are we not all members of the Body of Christ? In one another, do we not also find the truth in these words from a hymn written by a Filipino Jesuit?

In Him alone is our hope;
In Him alone is our strength;
In Him alone are we justified;
In Him alone are we saved.

In the midst of the difficulties that might beset us today, how might we continue to help one another to remain focused on Him?

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