By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus AMEH
Readings: Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43
Over time, I have developed a certain approach to watching the game of soccer and other sports which some of my friends find weird, and it is this: I don’t believe in the finality of the scores displayed on the scoreboard until I hear the final whistle. Even if the scoreboard is reading 5-0, with just a minute left to play, I still believe that it is not the final result; within a matter of seconds, that score line can change to 5-1. Until the referee says it is over by blowing the final whistle, I don’t accept that the result is final. And I have carried this attitude to every other aspect of my life; as far as I am concerned, no verdict, no situation, no experience of life – especially a negative experience or verdict – is final until God says so. No matter what anybody says or thinks, as long as that person is not God, I believe it is not final; it can still change.
Today’s reflection shall be centered on the gospel passage and it reveals clearly to us, how God can cancel, reverse, abrogate or nullify any verdict that his mouth has not pronounced. In that text of the gospel, we read of two people who received negative reports – Jairus and the woman who suffered haemorrhage for 12 years. On the one hand, after Jairus had appealed to Jesus to come and heal his sick daughter, he received the report that she was dead; on the other hand, after spending money consistently for 12 years trying to get medical help but without success, the sick woman probably got the negative report that her ailment was incurable. These two people received reports that wore the mask of hopelessness and bore a tone of finality, but to both of them, and to all of us and all humanity for all ages, Jesus proved that no verdict is final and only God has the final say.
A number of things happened with/to the major characters in this gospel passage that are worthy of note. It is important for us to bear them in mind and carry them with us as we approach God. These shall constitute some lessons for us today.
- They humbled themselves – Scripture reports that Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell down at the feet of Jesus to beg for healing for his daughter; the woman with haemorrhage, when Jesus asked who touched him, also came and fell down before him. Both of them, by falling down, acknowledged the supremacy of Jesus and their nothingness before him; they humbled themselves with their burdens before the Lord, and he lifted them up without the burdens. Quiet sadly, I see some Catholics today who are too big to kneel down before Jesus even during consecration at Mass and during Eucharistic adoration. For some, their clothes are too expensive or too neat to touch the ground before Jesus. Yet, they have come before the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
- They cried out to God – Jesus gives us an invitation in Matthew 11:28 to come to him with our burdens, and he will give us rest. God says in Psalm 50:15 that we should call on him in the day of distress and he will give us rest. Jairus and this woman called on Jesus in their distress and he kept his word – he gave them rest. Child of God, do not hesitate to table that difficulty, that problem, that worry, that burden before God, and he will surely give you rest, for his word says in Isa 58:9, “When you pray, I will answer you; when you call to me, I will respond.”
- They defied and overcame their crowds – To get to Jesus, the woman with haemorrhage had to push her way through a crowd of people. She defied the number of people who were around Jesus to touch his cloak. To receive his daughter back from the dead, Jairus had to ignore the voices of those who told him the girl was dead. Oftentimes too, in our quest for God, as we seek God’s verdict concerning our situations in life, we come across voices and circumstances of discouragement. We must never let them shift our focus from Jesus who has the final verdict. They are crowds trying to block your way, defy them!
- They believed Jesus – To the woman who suffered haemorrhage, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” To Jairus, Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe.” They believed the words of Jesus; they did not doubt, they did not question, they just believed. And as Jesus said, so it was – the woman was healed; Jairus’ daughter came back to life. The Bible says “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). This faith in Jesus was what guaranteed the miracles we read about today. If the hand of God must move in our favor, we must have faith in him, for faith is the foundation upon which all miracles stand.
Because Jairus and the woman who suffered haemorrhage believed the words of Jesus, he overturned the reports they had previously received, for he is the one who gives the final verdict. The Bible says no one decrees a thing and it stands but the Lord. It is only God who has the final verdict on everything pertaining to us. There is no human judgment, no human report, no human verdict that God cannot overrule. In the presence of God, no verdict is final! Hence, it does not matter what anyone has said concerning you, it does not matter what verdict the devil and his relatives have passed on you, it does not matter what report that has come to you from any quarters, I announce to you today, child of God, that before God, no verdict is final! With faith in God, negative reports will be reversed; with faith in God, burdens and yokes shall be lifted; with faith in God, curses and chains shall be broken; with faith in God, injustices shall be corrected; with faith in God, every verdict is reversible. Choose therefore, this day, whose report, whose verdict you shall believe. There is a God who has the final say, the final verdict, and that God is calling on us today to have faith in him, to walk uprightly before him, to humble ourselves before his mighty power, and he will do great and wonderful things in our lives. I pray for you today, that as we begin a new day, a new week, and end the first half of this year to begin the second half of the year, may God overrule and overturn every negative verdict that has been pronounced about you and upon you in the mighty name of Jesus! Amen!