There is a huge crowd waiting for Jesus when He comes back across the Sea of Galilee to His home town of Capernaum. The crowd thronged Him so that the disciples were astonished when He asked “who touched Me?” Out of this great crowd, only Jairus the Synagogue leader, and the woman with the flow of blood receiving healing. These two couldn’t have been further apart in their place in society. Jairus was the ruler of the Synagogue and thereby a most respected man. The women with the flow of blood – tradition tells us she was to become the beloved St. Veronica – was a complete outcast, considered “unclean” and shunned by her people lest they touch her, and her contamination be transferred to them. Today they are united in purpose as their social standing makes no difference to them in their desperation. Both were seeking Christ with all of their heart and soul in their great need.
There is no blueprint to salvation apart from following Christ in the path He puts before us. But often it is life’s difficulties that lead us to cry out and encounter God. We pray “Grant us, O Lord, all of our petitions which are unto salvation.” It is always our eternal salvation and participation in the kingdom of God, which God is helping us to receive. This is why we are to thank God in all things, not just those which meet our comfort and approval here and now. Unity in Christ does not mean uniformity. Every saint has their own path, and our unique path leads us unerringly to Christ when we keep our focus on Him above all else, in all of life’s circumstances. St. Paul tells us, (Eph 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Let us always be on the lookout for these gifts from God, these potential good works!
In St. Veronica we see a glorious example of (Mark 10:31) “many who are first shall be last and the last first.” She goes on from this encounter with Christ to be the saint who in various ancient reports is given the very image of His face on her handkerchief when He wipes His face with it while carrying His cross to Golgotha; the saint who married Zacchaeus the tax collector who climbed the sycamore tree and had Christ come and dine with him, and then gave ½ his possessions to the poor and restored any wrongful gain 4 x. They are reported to have spread the Gospel to southern France. We see her faith, her determination to find and follow Christ in the middle of great suffering, when many would fall into complete despair. This is a woman of great and undistracted faith, single-mindedly but secretly reaching out to just touch the hem of His garment to find healing. In her humility she does not even approach Christ directly with a request. She demonstrates a faith beyond even that of the centurion who didn’t want Christ to even take the time to come to heal his ailing beloved servant, but to simply say the word and his servant would be healed.
Although the future St. Veronica had been suffering with this great affliction for twelve years and had become impoverished through seeking a cure with no results, she understood a great truth. Healing always flows forth from Christ. The common wisdom of the day was a fearfulness that ones uncleanness could somehow contaminate and flow into others, so she was isolated. According to the Jewish law she could not even come into the temple. But she knew if she could just touch even the robe of Christ, that rather than her contamination flowing into Him, His healing power would flow into her.
We are often fearful. We need to protect ourselves from the attacks of the enemy. After all, (1 Peter 5:8) “…your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” But he is a toothless lion because he is restrained by God. Two verses earlier St. Peter tells us how to protect ourselves (1 Peter 5:6,7) “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.” St. Veronica intuitively understood this. She completely casts her cares under the hand of God, trusting in His love and care for her. She came in great humility. Trying to make herself as unnoticed as possible and not wishing to draw attention to herself, she simply grasps the hem of Christ’s robe. The hem of the robe is down on the ground so in her humility she stoops and bows to the lowest point, for she knows through her unfathomable faith, that this is enough to accomplish her healing. God is love. Love drives out fear and hate and bitterness. This is the natural order of power, it never goes the other way. It is as certain as light drives out darkness. Turn on a light switch and see if you witness a great struggle with the darkness fighting back and trying to overcome the light. This is how the transfer of healing travels in us who are being transformed into the image of Christ in humility. The healing overcomes the sickness. The power of blessing and healing flows from us to those needing it not the other way around. Immediately after healing Jairus’s daughter, Christ calls his 12 disciples to him and gives them the power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. Christ continues to be with us, the Church alays in this way.
We hear Christ tell us (Matt.16:18) “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” We often hear this and think it means we are protected from the assaults of the evil one. While this is true, the verse is not illuminating this fact. Gates are defensive structures not offensive. They keep things or people in or out. They don’t attack. Christ is saying that the church is attacking these gates and they will not stand. Christ tore them down and bound the devil and set free the captives of sin and death held behind these gates of Hades. We are set free! It is Christ and in Him we the Church that has the power, not the devil. It is the Church that is on the offensive destroying the bounds of sin and the lies of the evil one. Fulfilling what Christ has already accomplished. But only in Christ. If we think for a moment, we are strong enough to confront the least of the demons in our own strength, we will very quickly discover our pathetic weakness. The Lord’s brother Jude tells us, (Jude1:9) “Yet Michael the Archangel, contending with the devil, when he disputed with the body of Moses, dared not bring a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.” The future St. Veronica understood this reality and only wanted to touch Christ’s garment, to allow this power to flow into her.
In Jairus, we see a lesser faith. A desperate tentative faith that requires Christ to come and lay His hands in healing Jairus’s daughter. Jairus has come to Jesus hearing of His power and in great desperation. He has been given a measure of faith to come and fall at Christ’s feet. He is the leader of a synagogue and Synagogue leaders, his peers, were not known to be friendly towards Christ. He was risking alienation and scorn from his fellow Jewish leaders. But, he has chosen Christ over all the world has to offer; power, position, riches, respect. We see a rich man who is not saying “I have need of nothing” but is rather choosing to say by his actions “though I have much, it means nothing in comparison to seeking Christ.” We see that our worldly circumstances, no matter how enviable, are insignificant beside what is truly important, faith and union in Christ. Jairus has faith, but not like the Gentile Centurion who told Jesus it wasn’t necessary for Him to come to his house, just say the word and his servant would be healed. Not like St. Veronica who just needed to touch the hem of Christ’s robe to be healed. In God’s economy, it is arranged that Jairus receive a boost to his faith. St. Veronica stops the procession of the crowd going to Jairus’s house, and Christ’s healing power is demonstrated for Jairus as a testimony; just before he is greeted with the messengers from his house telling him “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the teacher.” Christ then turns to Jairus and says, “Do not fear; only believe.” Jairus’s faith will be made unshakable when rather than healing his daughter, Jesus raises her back to life.
We receive what we need when we need it. Notice the perfect timing of all this. How often do we beg God for this or that, for the strength to handle future occurrences, only to wrestle and struggle in our minds with scenario’s that mostly never happen, or that happen much later than we expect? There are countless stories of the martyrs who courageously went to their deaths singing the praises of God, seemingly unaffected by the most horrific tortures. There is the story of one who the night before she was to be burned at the stake, held her hand over a candle flame and recoiling in great pain cried out to God “How can I possibly be burned for your name when I can’t even hold my little finger over a candle?” History records that the next day as the flames rose up and consumed the body of the saint, all around heard the glorious praises coming from her mouth and saw the joyful rapture in her expression as the angels brought her the martyrs crown and collected her soul.
As I said at the start, there was a huge crowd thronging around Jesus, but only Jairus and St. Veronica came with purpose and intent. She especially came and drew power “dynamis” is the Greek word – the root for dynamite – from Christ. You know every Sunday, we also come to gather around our Lord. We are here to encounter Christ, to partake of His very body and blood. Are we like most of the crowd with Jairus that day, touching and hanging around Christ without drawing power from Him? When we come to Liturgy, when we come to partake of the very body and blood of our Lord and Creator Jesus Christ, what is our intent? How desperately do we wish to reach out and truly touch Christ, to have him heal the great wounds of our soul, transforming us with His light and love into a new creation? Do we join Jairus and St. Veronica in their desperate need, or do we mill about with the crowd, not realizing the incredible power and love we are directly encountering? He is here with us my brothers and sisters, we have entered Kairos time and all of eternity, all people, things, events, past and future, are part of this reality. How desperately do we want to have His power, His dynamis transform us and blow us into His light and love? What is our focused intent as we approach the cup? O God save us, do not let us be satisfied with just being part of the throng, but fill us, awaken us, and let your healing power flow into the depths of our being. Call us into complete union and communion with You.
May we be granted the grace to call out with intensity and longing of St. Veronica and Jairus, to have the dynamis power of Christ heal and transform us. Through the prayers of St. Veronica and of all the saints, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy upon us and save us.