27 June 2021
13th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
How does faith heal? That is, how does having faith set the stage for being healed? Last Sunday, Jesus rebuked his panicked disciples during a storm, asking them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” The disciples were freaking out about the possibility of drowning in the storm b/c they did not yet have faith. “Having faith” here is not like having a watch or having a cell phone or having a cold. Faith is not an object that we possess, or a quantity of something that we can gain or lose. Nor is it a condition that we endure. What the disciples lacked – at that point in their training – was a trusting, intimate relationship with their Lord and Savior. Because they did not yet live in the sure hope of the resurrection; because they did not yet see themselves as reflections of the Christ in the world – they feared death. They feared injury and sickness. They feared being cast out. They feared not being seen as prominent men. They feared losing the prestige of being a disciple. They doubt; they worry; they need control. Faith, having a trusting, intimate relationship with Christ, sets the stage for healing.
How does faith heal? Look at the two miracles we have this morning. Jairus' daughter is dying. Jairus runs to find Jesus and begs him to heal her. Jesus, the disciples, and a whole crowd of people head off to Jairus' house. On the way, a woman who's been bleeding for 12yrs touches Jesus' cloak. She is immediately healed. Notice what Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.” He doesn't say, “Touching my clothes has saved you.” Jesus isn't wearing a Magical Healing Cloak. It's her belief, her trust, her surrender to Christ's power that heals her. She puts away worry and fear and pride and just reaches out in submission to the gift of Christ's presence. . .and touches. In the meantime, Jairus' daughter dies. Jesus says to the father, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” When Jesus gets to the house, he asks a question much like the one he asked during the storm, “Why this commotion and weeping?” He orders the girl to rise. And she does. How? Because she had faith? No, obviously not. She was dead. Her father's faith saved her. Her father's belief, trust, and surrender to the presence of Christ saved her. These are miracles of healing and resurrection. Not everyday events. Nonetheless, faith prepares the stage for our healing, our salvation.
We understand faith to be a believing, trusting, intimate relationship with the Father through Christ Jesus. Faith is not an object or a condition or quantity of something to be counted. Faith is the good habit of trusting that God has made good on His promises. Faith is a disposition, an inclination. Faith is the first and last place we go to find our peace and see ourselves settled into the loving routine of becoming Christs for the world. When disease, accident, natural disaster, financial misfortune, death, sin – when any of these almost inevitable events occur, how we respond judges our faith. If you respond with panic, anxiety, worry, fear, violence – well, maybe your relationship with the Father through Christ Jesus isn't as strong as you thought. Maybe your friendship with Christ lacks intimacy, lacks surrender. Maybe you're holding something back – just in case Christ doesn't meet your expectations. How well would a marriage work if you didn't trust your spouse? How well does parenting work if you love your children conditionally? How about that friendship where your friend betrays your confidence on a regular basis? How's that working for you? Think carefully: what am I holding back from Christ? How am I failing to trust him?
We cannot heal ourselves. Sure, we can bandage up cuts and scrapes, but I'm talking about the sort of healing that brings us to eternal life. Salvation. The healing of our relationship with God the Father. Only Christ that heal that wound. Jesus says to the woman, “Your faith has saved you.” Your trusting, believing, intimate surrender to me has gained you salvation. And with salvation gained, with our hearts and minds focused on eternal life, what's a storm, a disease; what's a natural disaster or even a death? Tragic? Yes, absolutely! Do we grieve? Of course we do! But we carry on growing in holiness, surrendering ourselves to being perfected in Christ, and being his ministers in the world. The Enemy wants us to panic, to be worried, to shrink away in fear. He wants us scattered, crying and wailing, hoarding our graces just in case, ya never know. Why? Because he needs us to think we're in control. He needs us to behave as if we're in control. That way, his power grows; his influence increases. We belong to Christ. Not to the world. Faith is how we show the world that we belong to Christ. Show the world that you are healed. Show the world that you have surrendered to Christ.