Courage and faith
Pentecost 5B Mark 5:21-43; 2 Samuel 1:1,17-27; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen.
The stories we hear today are about faith and courage.
David was a man who had great faith in God. While Saul was still King of Israel, and many years before the king died, David had been anointed as King of Israel. Through Saul’s jealousy David had to flee from Saul into enemy territory until it was safe for him to return. David may have wondered when God’s promise that he would become king would come true, but his struggles would prepare him for the great responsibilities he would face.
David was a talented musician. He played the harp; he brought peace through music to Saul’s troubled mind, he brought music into the worship services of the temple and wrote many of the psalms. Saul had caused much trouble for David, but when he died, David composed a lament for the king and his son Jonathan who was David’s closest friend. David had every reason to hate Saul, but he chose not to. Instead, he chose to look at the good Saul had done and to ignore the times when Saul had attacked him. Keeping a record of wrongs and holding a grudge is like building a wall between people and it is nearly impossible to have good relationships while a wall is there.
Can we remember that God does not keep a record of our wrongdoing? When she forgives, he forgives completely tearing down any wall between us. Because of this we revere God, and she holds nothing against us. The lines of communication are completely open. It takes courage to lay aside hatred and hurt and to respect the good in another person, especially an enemy. David gives us an example of such courage to follow.
Jesus travelled around and across the sea of Galilee and probably was at Capernaum when Jairus, the elected ruler of the local synagogue came to Jesus and humbled himself before him begging for his help for his sick daughter. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” We suddenly find Jesus caught in a situation which no priest would like to be in. He is asked to go to minister to the seriously ill person and on his way is side-tracked by another crisis. Jesus responded to Jairus but was delayed by a woman with a haemorrhage. The family had been anxiously waiting for Jesus to come to comfort the sick and dying child but because of compassion for another in need, he is, in the eyes of the mourners, too late. “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” they say. One can only imagine how Jairus might have felt at that moment.
Faith links the two scenes in the gospel story and provides a clue to us. The woman had a seemingly incurable condition which caused her to bleed constantly. This may have been a condition that made her ritually unclean and would have excluded her from most social contact. She desperately wanted Jesus to heal her, but she knew that her bleeding would cause Jesus to be unclean under Jewish law if she touched him.
In the depths of despair, the psalmist cried out to God. Despair makes us feel isolated and distant from God, but this is precisely when we need God most. When we feel overwhelmed by a problem, feeling sorry for ourselves will only increase feelings of hopelessness, but crying out to God will turn our attention to the only One who can really help.
Even so, in despair, the women reached out by faith and was healed. Jesus was not angry that the woman had touched his garment but stopped and asked who did it, to teach her something about faith. Although the woman was healed when she reached out, Jesus said her faith caused the cure. Her physical healing was only the beginning. Because Jesus knew that power had gone out of him, we may also presume that Jesus knew on whom his healing power was bestowed. He could easily have identified her in the crowd, but he did not. He waits until she summons her courage and confesses, then he tells her that it is her faith that has saved her. It has done so on two counts. First her conviction that only touching Jesus would bring her healing. And the second is her faith that overcomes her fear of being found out. She trusts the Lord. Once she is revealed to the crowd as the one who caused the delay in Jesus’ journey to Jairus’s home, he holds her up as an example of the power of faith that is available to everyone in the crowd. . He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” If all have faith like her all will be saved. They will be delivered from what is burdening them and be free to “go in peace”. This is because faith brings a close relationship with God. This delaying incident is now part of Jairus’s story and a reason for him to trust Jesus when he is told his daughter is dead and Jesus says, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Jairus had faith in the beginning, but now his faith is still there, and he takes no notice of the crowd and lets Jesus continue. The sign of the power of faith is seen in the raising of the little girl.
Jesus turns what looks like to outsiders a delay and a too late arrival into the reality of the power of faith. Jesus never arrives too late for those who have faith and do not fear. This story teaches us to be people of faith and courage. even though from our perspective we often seem to arrive too late or are unable to resolve a crisis.
The awareness of our limitations is evident in the story of the Corinthian church. The Corinthian believers excelled in everything – they had faith, good preaching, much knowledge, much earnestness, and much love. Paul wanted them to also be leaders in giving. Giving is a natural response of love. Paul did not order the Corinthians to give, but he encouraged them to prove that their love was sincere. When we love someone, we want to give them our time and attention and to provide for their needs. If we refuse to help our love is not as genuine as we may say.
The Corinthian Church had money; they had planned to give to the Jerusalem churches a year previously. Paul challenges them to act on their plans. We all need to follow through on promises to give, and give as much as we are able, thinking in proportion to what God has given us. God gives so that we can give to others. And as Paul says we should give out of what we have, not what we do not have. Can we give in faith and in faith trust that the witness of our faith will be more powerful than the things we give?
These stories teach that if we do what we can with courage and faith, God looks after the rest. Amen.
The Reverend Canon Camellia Flanagan TSSF