For the Thirteenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year
In the Gospel, crowds are often a challenge for our Lord.
We have seen him get into a boat in order to avoid being crushed by a crowd on the shore.
We have seen him practically imprisoned in a house by the press of a crowd.
He once cast out an entire crowd of demons that left and drowned a crowd of pigs.
Today he fixes exclusive and intimate attention on two different persons, even though crowds press on all sides.
He works two miracles today: first, the healing of a woman with chronic bleeding; second, the resurrection of a dead child.
The two events overlap, intertwine and coincide at several points.
In the first miracle, he does not see or hear the woman when she is healed.
In the second miracle, the dead girl cannot see or hear Jesus.
To the woman with the bleeding, he says, “Daughter, your FAITH has made you well.”
Not to the dead girl but to her father, he says, “Have FAITH.”
The woman, without being SEEN or HEARD by Christ, secretly touches his clothing; POWER goes out from him, and she is instantly healed.
The dead girl, who can no longer SEE or HEAR, rises from the dead and begins to walk when POWER goes out from Christ as he touches her hand and commands her to rise up.
Finally, even though both miracles take place in the midst of a shoving or noisy crowd, there is preserved at the very moment of each miracle a closed circle of privacy and intimacy.
When the woman is healed in the midst of a crowd, only she and Christ know it.
Then, even though a throng of noisy mourners surrounds and fills the house of the dead girl, Christ takes only her parents and two of his disciples into her room.
In the case of this dead girl, he heightens further the privacy and intimacy by the precise words he chooses, “Little girl, TO YOU I say, rise up!”
Not only do these two miracles overlap, intertwine and coincide with each other.
They also overlap, intertwine and coincide with the signs and wonders Christ continues to work in us through his Gospel, his sacraments and his Church.
Christ’s work in us transcends what can be seen, heard or touched.
Nonetheless, his power does not exclude sight, sound and touch, but makes use of them.
Quite importantly, faith must always be involved.
It may be our own faith, so that Christ says to us, “Daughter! Son! Your faith has made you well.”
It may also be passive, involving not our own faith directly, but the faith of others, to whom Christ says, “Do not fear! Have faith!”
Such is the case today of the girl whom Christ raised from the dead after telling her parents, “Have faith!”
It is the same with the baptism of infants who are reborn into the kingdom of Life through the faith of their parents and godparents who are members of the Church, members of Christ.
Finally, even though our sacramental healings and resurrections may take place in the midst of a great crowd of witnesses, and perhaps even through THEIR faith, not ours, Christ is at work for each of us individually: “To YOU PERSONALLY I say, rise up!”
Christ never told a crowd, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Whenever he spoke those words, it was always to individual persons.
Here in the Eucharist, he arrives to forgive sins, heal the sick, raise the dead and give eternal life.
Let us each pray for every person with us in church today.
It may be that the faith of a stranger in this church today shall be the instrument of your own resurrection and the forgiveness of your sins.
Let us spur our hearts, minds and wills to faith, for Christ in his Eucharist is hidden from our senses.
That he is really present, we know only by faith.
As we receive his Body and Blood, his saving power comes into us.
In his Eucharist he also asks, “Who touched me?”
Like the woman healed today, it would be natural for us to fall down before him in fear and trembling, confessing the whole truth about ourselves.
He says to us in reply, “Your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed.”