On the Journey of Jairus from Despair to Deliverence – A Homily on the Gospel for the 13th Sunday of the Year

The Gospel today focuses on a man named Jairus and a journey he makes from despair to deliverance, with the help of Jesus. Of course Jairus is not merely a synagogue official who lived two thousand years ago. You are Jairus and his journey is yours.

We also meet in this Gospel a woman of great faith to whom the Lord points as an exemplar. If you are ready to accept it, she also can be you.

Let’s observe this Gospel in six stages as Jairus makes his (our) journey.

I. TRIAL – The text says, When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.

Jarius is in a great crisis, a great trial. Most of us have experienced similar things. Perhaps it is the grave illness or injury of someone we love. Perhaps it is the sudden loss of a job, or of our own health. Perhaps it is the sudden loss of a friend or the effects of a sudden storm or natural disaster. Perhaps it is simply the fear of some catastrophe that looms.

In his crisis Jairus seeks Christ, and falling to his knees, he pleads for help and healing for his beloved daughter.

Note that it is this very crisis that brings him to Jesus so prayerfully. While suffering remains a mystery, it is a recognizable fact that it sometimes takes suffering and crisis to bring us to Jesus. It should not be this way, but it is often the truth. Even for regular Church-goers, it sometimes takes a real crisis to make us finally realized and cry out: “Lord! I really need you! I cannot survive without you!”

And thus Jairus, quite possibly a proud synagogue official possessed of great dignity, it now at the feet of Jesus pleading for mercy. And what of us? Does it take this? Perhaps it does. But, for whatever purpose, God often allow suffering to find us for a reason and for a season.

Jairus is now undergoing a trial, a test. But remember, there is a test in every testimony.

II. TRAVELING – The text says [Jesus] went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

Note that there is a kind of delay here. Jesus could have simply healed the daughter, instantly from where he was (as he did with the Centurion’s servant). But instead Jesus says, (in effect) to Jairus, “Let us journey together for a awhile.” The Lord delays the healing of the daughter, and as we shall see, this delay means her death.

We too must often experience the Lord’s delay, for our crying out for healing and mercy does not often yield instant results. It is as if the Lord want us to live our questions and struggles awhile. It is as if he wants to walk with us in a journey of faith that requires a kind of waiting and watchful trust.

Such a delay is likely part of God’s plan to build our trust and faith, but whatever its cause, the Lord often requires that we wait, that we hold out. Gospel music is replete with such themes. One song says, I promised the Lord that I would hold out, He said he’d meet me in Galilee. Another song says, Hold on just a little while longer, everything’s gonna be alright. Another song says, Keep your hand on the plow, hold on! Yet another says, Lord, help me to hold out, until my change comes.

Thus, the Lord walks with Jairus and us and summons us to a faith that holds out. Scripture says, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come with the morning light (Ps 30:3).

III. TESTIMONY – Along the way the Lord arranges a lesson in trust for Jairus in the person of a woman of strong faith. The text says:

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

Here is a woman of remarkable faith. She has come to a point in her life’s journey that she simply knows by faith that all she has to do is touch Jesus, and she will be healed. Surely she has come to this faith only by a long and painful journey. But she HAS come to this moment, and now she has the faith to be saved.

And she touches Jesus.

Do not miss the significance of this touch, for Jesus does not. Sensing the power of her faith and that healing power has gone out from him he says “Who touched me?” The disciples react with exasperation saying, (in effect) “Lord, hundreds of people have been bumping up against you in the crowd!” But Jesus did not asked who had bumped up against him, or brushed aside him. He asked, “Who touched me?” For it is one thing to bump up against the Lord and another thing to touch him, to touch him in faith.

How many of us really touch God when we come to Mass? He speaks to us in the Liturgy of the Word, do we really hear him? He touches us in Holy Communion, but do we touch him? Do we really expect healing when we go to Mass, do we really expect a healing touch? Or are we only going to be in a crowd bumping up against Jesus?

Many people put more faith in Tylenol than the Eucharist because, when they take Tylenol, they actually expect something to happen, that the pain will go away and healing will happen. But what do they expect when they receive Holy Communion? Often nothing.

How about you? Are you like the woman who touches Jesus expecting healing or just the crowd that brushes past him?

Jesus insists on meeting this woman of faith. And it may well be that he had Jairus in mind. As if to say, “Pay attention to this woman Jairus. Do you see what her faith has gotten her? Do you believe Jairus?” And into our own life the Lord will also and often send those who can testify to us of faith and show what faith can do.

Thus on this journey, Jairus is given a witness to encourage his faith. Who are the witnesses in your life that the Lord has sent?

IV. TEMPTATION – The text says, While [Jesus] was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”

Note that while there is, on this journey of Jairus, an encouraging testimony of what faith can do, there are also these temptations against faith, and temptations to despair and hopelessness.

And what of us? We too often must confront individuals and a world that are largely negative.

And note how Jairus is told by the negative ones to dismiss Jesus: “Why bother the teacher any more?” Yes, there are many in our life and in this world who not only have no hope, but insist we dismiss Jesus, that He is of no hope or relevance. Many secularists, themselves having no hope, ridicule us who do and taunt us to dismiss the Lord from our journey.

This is a temptation that must be rejected.

V. TRUST – The text says,  Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.

To such as these who are negative and ridicule, Jesus has only a rebuke and he “puts them all out.”

Then turning to Jairus he says, “Be not afraid – Just have faith.” The command that we have faith resonates not merely as an “order” from Jesus but also as a dynamic principle. For the same God who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, now says “Be not afraid but have faith” and so trusting and saving faith is possible for Jairus and for us.

One of the most principle tasks of Jesus and his holy Spirit is to grow faith within us.And as this faith grows our victories become more and more evident and existent. Scripture says:

For thus says the Lord God, the holy One of Israel, “By waiting and calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies… (Is 30:15)

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Is 40:30-31).

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Heb 10:35-39)

Hence the Lord Jesus commands faith to bring us reward. And that leads to the final place in the journey:

VI. TRIUMPH – The text says, He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Sure enough, Jairus’ journey with Jesus leads to victory. And so will ours. It may not be the Lord’s will to raise every relative recently deceased, but the Lord will surely give us the victory in every travail and difficulty. And to those who die in him, he will surely say as he said to the little Girl: “I say to you, Arise!”

And for us, in every trial, if you are in the Lord and journeying with him I promise you complete victory in Jesus: To every trial and distress…just say “I’ll Rise!”

In sufferings and sickness…”I’ll Rise!”
In setbacks and sorrows…”I’ll Rise!”
Tears in my eyes…”I’ll Rise!”
No money in my pocket…”I’ll Rise!”
On the rough side of the mountain…”I’ll Rise!”
Yes, just say “I’ll Rise!”

Jairus has made a journey with Jesus from Trial to Traveling with Jesus. Through Testimony and Temptation to the empowering command Trust! And thereby unto Triumph.

The Journey of Jairus is our journey and his victory is ours if we like him journey with Jesus.

18 Replies to “On the Journey of Jairus from Despair to Deliverence – A Homily on the Gospel for the 13th Sunday of the Year”

  1. charles pope, you are a gift to humanity. I’ll journey with christ today and ever

  2. Awareness that how much difficult my journey is not because of this world but because i am always struggling with my weaknesses gives me the strength to continue and to rise-up whenever i fall BECAUSE I KNOW FULLY THAT JESUS IS WITH ME. I only have to humble myself, beg for His help, to repent, ask for His forgiveness and NEVER to do it again.

  3. Jesus, deep in our souls, speaks and calls us to touch Him for our sakes. Help us understand better this spiritual “touch.” Firstly, it is found in contemplation where we are focused only on the Lord. We can not be at Mass as a spectator of things and people; we must enter into meditation and contemplation – we must be there for the Lord and in the Lord who saves us from ourselves. We are not there to be seen, but to see the Lord in a spiritual way and to receive His Love and to adore Him. We must be focused and intent and enter Mass knowing our weaknesses and illnesses and unworthiness to be in the Lord’s Presence and our utter need for Him and bring to the forefront our desire to live with Him forever – with His help – that we may be made whole.

  4. Thank You! I propose you write a book with explanations for the Sunday Gospels. We seldom hear the power of the readings explained so well, and it is a great loss.

    1. I second this. Every time you’ve deconstructed a story, whether of Ruth, or Hosea, or this wonderful Gospel, it brings me greater understanding.

      ps: the accompanying psalm refrain was perfect match for this story: I will praise the Lord, for He hath rescued me.

  5. Dear Father (and readers)
    Thanks be to God! I am sincerely grateful for this organic exposition of Scripture. The way you naturally unfolded your message follows every move of the narrative of the text- and my life. I recently lost a job six months ago because I refused to be complicit with something evil. At first, I think I wore it like a badge of courage, but- soon I was in the dregs of despair. Now, I am starting a new job (same field and a step up in pay and responsibility!) August 6th. Still, I feel the same temptations, tests, testimonies, trust and yes much traveling to go. The trial is behind me, the triumph is before me. This morning as I go to the Eucharist, I will look for the hand of Jesus holding onto to mine and declaring by “dynamic principle,” Do not be afraid, only believe” and… I say to you ARISE! Pax.

  6. In the Old Testament most miracles are corporate, for the people, the parting of the sea and of rivers, the sun being still in the sky, the manna. There are more personal miracles in the New Testament.

  7. This easy to understand explanation underscores the importance of preparation for mass a day or 2 days before the actual mass and if such professional explanations were available earlier most would relate more God and receive the Holly Communion with chaste souls thus bring more meaning to regular attendance of Sunday mass and Solemnity masses

    I wish it were possible if we could get such explanations say on Saturday instead of Sunday evening(Africa time) well after Sunday mass

  8. What and ‘amazing’ article!
    This story really touches my husband and my heart.
    Jesus came to us through Father Josh and healed our daughter who was in NICU.
    Here is her story on U-Tube if you are interested.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FolrhNYp_xU (Lily’s Miracle)

    May God use it to give all who see it HOPE as it did us!
    To God be all the Glory. Mary seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

  9. The reason why so many trust Tylenol over God is that it makes us feel good so quickly. It rarely does any good for the health, although there are some occasional true benefits such as reduced inflammation.
    We can also turn to other things that make us feel good. A person who has a broken leg could take a more powerful painkiller than Tylenol and proceed to dance and cavort. However, this substituting the painkiller for God’s gifts of the body’s natural ability to heal over time and the numbing of the pain that warns us to refrain from furthering the injury until healing is complete.
    I’m not the only one who turned to emotional painkillers to numb intangeable pain as I proceeded to pretend that it no longer existed in such a way that furthered the injuries; nor am I the only one who finally cried out to God in despair and received His gift of a process of emotional and spiritual healing.
    I guess that when we were told to pick up our cross and follow Him we weren’t to expect that we would be instantly transported to the top of the hill without so much as a stubbed toe. Matthew 16:24-26 Mark 8:34-35 Luke 9:23

  10. The journey of faith from despair to deliverance is beautifully demonstrated on “Lily’s Miracle” on U-Tube. Thank you very much for sharing your deeply moving and person experience “touching” Christ’s face! Life is so precious and I pray that God blesses your family with more precious children. I could not stop reading the article on today’s Gospel and would like to read your thoughts on the book of Ruth….my favorite book! God bless Father Josh and all priests!

    Praise be to Jesus!

  11. One little detail that always stands out (for me) in the story of Jairus’s daughter is how Jesus tells them to “give her something to eat” at the end. As if it wasn’t enough that Jesus brought her back to life, He is even concerned that the little girl would be hungry, after “recovering” from a serious illness. Jesus is so attentive to every little detail where we are concerned. Praise be to God and God bless you, Msgr. Pope.

  12. I am someone who reached out and touched Christ’s garment in trust, truly believing in my husband’s healling, only to be devastated by his death two years later. I did trust and believed with all my heart that he would be healed. Yesterday’s readings brought back painful memories for me. How do I deal with my prayers not being answered like Jarius and the woman with the hemorage?

    1. I too have suffered agic loss in my immediate family. My sister died in a fire and my mother, who had been mising for three days was found dead in a snowstorm, when the melting finally revealed her body. I too wondered, but I have also come to expereince that Gods mercies are not exhausted, his graces are not ended. New doors and new life have been shown to me. As for your husband and for my family members, they are not dead, they are asleep in the flesh but alive to God in the spirit. You prayers were answered, God said no, but has something better. Trust this and look for it.

  13. Monsignor, thank you for your words, for helping me to stay the course and not give up.

  14. Thank you for these words, Monsignor. I have difficulty from time to time with worry,anxiety and panic attacks about keeping in good health, being a 2 time cancer survivor. I will be rereading this again and again.

  15. a brother-in-law has terminal esophageal cancer, i asked my sister-in-law to remember those words of Christ, “Be not afraid, just have faith.” he has refused to have any further tests or chemo done, but started to get his appetite back, slowly, and it seems the cancer has stabilised and maybe even gone into remission. it was more than anyone could have hoped for, and he seems happier than ever, living on the edge as he is, on borrowed time.

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