Persistent faith got them their hearts desires – new life

Thirteenth Sunday B, June 27, 2021. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama at Sacred Heart Parish, Airport, Abuja

Readings: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24, 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15, Mark 5:21-43

I am delighted to visit you in the Sacred Heart Parish, Airport, since the passing of your beloved parish priest, the late Monsignor Anthony Onyeso. He ran the race and fought the good fight to the very end. May God reward him with the crown of unfading glory.

Our Mass is holding where so often, you see or hear flights taking off or landing. That the aircraft, as big as it is, carrying so many passengers, can take off and fly in the air for hours and land safely is a technological mystery. Those who board a plane trust and believe that the pilot will fly them safely to their destination. They don’t ask the pilot for his certificate or ask him if he is a Muslim or Christian, a northerner or a southerner. They simply have faith that the pilot will keep them safe in the air and land the plane safely. That we can have faith in a human being such as a pilot, calls for our absolute faith in God.

In the Gospel, Jairus is described as a synagogue official, a man of considerable standing in the Jewish community. He approached Jesus and asked Him to heal his very sick daughter. On the other hand was the woman with an incurable hemorrhage for 12 years, left physically weak, religiously ostracised, socially isolated and economically drained. She was as good as dead! In faith she sought secretly to touch Jesus’ garment. Right there and then she received healing.

The request for healing in each story is a courageous act of faith. Both the woman and the little girl were dead before their encounter with Jesus Christ. What is striking in the story is the faith of the woman and Jairus who refused to stop at anything till their persistent faith got them their hearts desires – new life.

Things we should learn today:

In the first reading from Wisdom, we learn that God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living (cf. Wis. 1:3; 2:23). In sickness and death, turn to God, who gives hope where humans are utterly hopeless and helpless.

In the Gospel story of the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus, we learn that God gives each one of us the opportunity to touch Him. At Mass when we touch Jesus in faith, we can receive physical or spiritual healing.

Our challenges should bring us closer to God rather than drive us away from Him because “with God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26).

Do not allow people’s attitude to discourage you from getting what you need from God. The crowd did not deter the woman with haemorrhage and Jairus. Psalms 50:15 urges us to call on God in the day of trouble; He will answer us and deliver us.

God grants our petitions because of our faith. Remember, the woman lived in her condition for 12 years until she showed faith in Jesus, and got healed touching the fringe of His garment. Jesus told her, “Go in peace, your faith has made you well” (Mk. 5:34).

We must be patient and consistent in our prayers – the woman prayed for 12 years. Jairus never stopped believing even when he was told his daughter was already dead. Philippians 4:13 assures us that with faith we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. No problem is too complicated for Jesus to solve.

Faith and good work must go together. Do not abandon work for prayers or be working when you should be praying. We need to budget our time well. Instead of going on a retreat or spending time fasting on a mountain on a day of work, you should be at your work. Faith that tells you not to seek medical treatment is not a mature faith. We must combine faith and reason. A man whose house is on fire but chooses to pray the rosary has a naive faith.

Dear friends, the type of faith we demonstrate in pilots or doctors is the type of faith we should demonstrate in our political leaders. But they must first be exemplary, selfless in service and sensitive to the needs of people under their care, especially in the use of public resources. Leaders can command the respect of people only when they don’t pursue their personal comfort or engage in an arrogant display of wealth and the paraphernalia of power. As Jesus identified with the sick, the suffering and downtrodden, our leaders must make conscious efforts to alleviate people’s suffering. Today that farmers cannot go to farm for fear of bandits and kidnappers, children are not safe in school and youths are frustrated to the point desperation, leaders must wake up to their responsibilities, to help heal the trauma of poverty, the psychological stress of insecurity and the fatigue of daily life.

May God bless you the parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish, Airport, together with the 98 candidates for confirmation, and renew His grace within you, so that together with your new Parish Priest, Rev Fr. Johnson Igoh, you will keep growing in His love and service. May those who are sick in spirit or in body hear the words of Jesus today: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mk. 5:34).

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