Faith and Humility

Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Imago Dei Retreat

Over the last couple of days, y’all have had quite a bit of time to listen to some pretty incredible women of faith share their stories. Hopefully this time has given each of you the opportunity to find clarity in who you are as a beloved daughter and to identify your unique gifts. But most of all, I hope this retreat has given you the ability to invite the Lord into the deepest recesses of your hearts so that you can encounter His love in such a powerful way. I really do commend all of you for being so open to how the Lord is moving and acting in your lives this week. I thank you for having the faith to trust that the Lord was doing something and the humility to follow where He was leading. And I hope that journey will continue as you prepare to return home tomorrow.

Faith and humility. Those are the keys to encountering the Lord each and every day of our lives. If you look at the lives of the saints – faith and humility are always two characteristics they possess. If you think about the holiest people you know – chances are that they are people who have an amazing sense of faith and a deep understanding of who they are in God’s eyes.

Faith and humility.

In our Gospel today, we have two examples of individuals who approach Jesus to bring about healing in their lives. They are beginning to recognize who Jesus is. They have seen all that He has done, all the miracles that He has performed. Word about Him has spread all around the area and everyone is seeking to simply be close to this man that people are calling the Messiah. They have come to some sense of faith that He is who people are claiming Him to be. And, in a moment of desperation for both of these people, they find the courage to approach Jesus for the healing that they desire.

In the first case, Jairus, a synagogue official approaches the Lord and shares that his daughter was deathly ill. I imagine that this father had done everything he possibly could to get the best doctors to help cure his daughter, only to realize that nothing they were doing was bringing about the healing that she needed. Jairus knew that saving his daughter was something beyond his ability, it was beyond his control. So in a last ditch effort, he approaches Jesus and asks for a miracle. Not only did he have the faith that Jesus could perform the miracle, but he approached Jesus in humility. When Jairus made his way toward Jesus, he wasn’t aloof, or skeptical, or argumentative, like so many of the Pharisees and Sadducees that we encounter in the Gospels. Instead, we’re told that Jairus “fell at [Jesus’] feet and pleaded earnestly with him.”

As a synagogue official, Jairus was one of the most important people in the city. “He was used to being in charge; he was used to having the right answers and helping other people solve their problems. But faced with the mortal sickness of his daughter, Jairus remembered that there was a higher power than him, and he humbled himself before the Lord, and the Lord “went off with him” to work a miracle.”

The second example that we have is the woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years. We don’t even know this woman’s name and yet she has become such an example of faith for us. Here she was, one of the least members of society. In fact, much like lepers in the time of Jesus, this woman was an outcast because of her sickness, declared “unclean” by the Mosaic Law. Because of that, “she was risking her very life by fighting her way through the crowd, touching all those people, and making them unclean as well. Where did she get the strength to overcome those obstacles?” From her faith and her humility.

She, too, had likely been “seeking a solution to her chronic, humiliating, and debilitating health issue, paying for all the latest technology and all the most highly recommended doctors.” And, yet, none of those things were able to bring her healing, none of those things brought a resolution to her suffering. She had discovered the limits of human ingenuity and, in her own moment of desperation, turned instead to the limitless mercy of a much higher power – she turned to the One whom she knew could save her.

Even though she was terrified, she still found the courage to somehow respond to the faith that she had in Jesus, she still found the courage to reach out her hand and touch Jesus’ cloak. She knew that He was the only one who was going to be able to help her. And she risked everything to receive the healing she desired.

The humility of these two people in our Gospel allowed them to open their hearts to faith in Jesus Christ. They both recognized that Jesus’ power could overcome sickness and even death. It’s a recognition of Jesus’ divinity because, as we hear in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, only God has the power over life and death. So it was their faith in Jesus that allowed the saving power of God to be unleashed in their lives. It was God’s saving power that healed their hopelessness, strengthened their weakness, and enlightened their darkness.

The invitation for us is to consider whether we have that same faith. The Lord is asking us to reflect on whether we we have the courage to humbly approach Him and bring Him our deepest pains and sufferings. This retreat has certainly brought a lot up in your hearts, that was evidenced to me last night hearing confessions. The invitation that the Lord is giving each of us today is to acknowledge where He is calling us to new life. What illnesses or ‘deaths’ or wounds or pains do you need to surrender to Him?  What fears do you need to overcome to say “Yes” to Jesus’ invitation to arise? Just like he said to the daughter of Jairus, so, too, does the Lord say to you: “Talitha koum. Little girl, arise.” 

As we conclude today, I invite each of you to have the faith and the humility to bring those things before the Lord, to present Him your hearts and invite Him into the areas that need the most healing. The things you have encountered on this retreat are just the beginning. The Lord wants to continue walking with you through all of the things that He has brought to the light. Don’t be afraid to approach Him. Don’t be afraid to open the doors of your hearts to Him even further. Today, as we receive the Eucharist, let’s ask the Lord for the grace of simply letting Him in further. Let’s ask the Lord for the gift of faith and humility.

For more information on the Imago Dei Retreat, please check out the Unraveled Podcast.

Image: Raising of Jairus’ Daughter by Paolo Veronese, 1546

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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