Strength of Faith

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.

Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith.

Today we experience two examples of strength of faith, that of Jarius whose daughter was at the point of death, and the woman afflicted with hemorrhages over many years.

Notice in these two examples, Jesus was not the first one either of these people turned to. 

The Gospel recounts that the woman had suffered for years and suffered even further under the hands of many doctors, even spending all she had looking for a cure. Jarius’ daughter certainly grew sicker and sicker, and it wasn’t until she was a death’s door that her father pled with Jesus.

These examples are instructive for us at two levels. The first is that we tend to search for our own solutions. Money can solve it. Experts and consultants can get the job done. If only I do this or that. Then we reach the end of all our efforts and finally turn to Jesus. Perhaps we even fear turning to Him and must sneak up on Him for that which we need. We need to change that. The second instruction, even though these people waited and tried relying on themselves, once they approached Jesus in faith, Jesus answered them. He did not rebuke or turn them away.

The overriding lesson, why wait? Why delay? As Jesus asked the disciples in the boat last week, Where’s your faith.

As we focus our efforts on our strength of faith, let us practice turning to Jesus first. Before we ring the alarm bell, before we invite the consultants and spend the dollars, let us place faith and trust in Him. He will see us through our troubles and struggles, He will guide the hands of the doctors, He will break the chains and snares of the evil one who seeks our destruction. Faith indeed works tremendous miracles.

Also notice Jesus Himself acts in strength of faith.

People came and said: “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” In great faith what did Jesus do? He disregarded the message that was reported. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  Once they arrived, they found commotion, weeping, and wailing. Jesus responded by speaking truth and received nothing but ridicule. Yet, He proceeded in strength of faith.

As we work on growing in our strength of faith, as we live out our Christian lives, let us also disregard ridicule, naysayers, and those who wail in panic searching for answers. Living the gospel faith, relying on Jesus, we will overcome all things in the strength that is eternally ours.

Check out or
Stand up?

But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

St. Paul had arrived at Thessalonica in the winter of 49, around this time of year. Paul had just struggled mightily in Philippi. His rights as a citizen were violated and he was mistreated and now ended up in Thessalonica.

Unfortunately, Paul did not have it much better in Thessalonica. He was forced to leave in the face of severe opposition. Yet his time there was blessed. He founded a fledging Church. On the down side, he didn’t have time to fully teach the members of this young Church. After leaving, and meeting Timothy in Athens, he sent Timothy back for a check-in visit.

The letter to the Thessalonians, authored in about 51, two years after he had to leave, was intended to offer support and learning to this young Church, and to reassure it in the essentials of the faith.

A vital, moment in a young (or even not so young) life comes when we are confronted with that life altering choice. Do I turn left or right? Do I go forward or turn back? Do I check out and slink away, or do I stand up with my head held high? Jesus put that choice to us. Paul put it to Thessalonica. We are asked in our youth, and we are asked today – How will we decide?

Today we enter Advent, the season of waiting, preparation, and expectation. Jesus reminds us of what we are waiting for, preparing for, and expecting. It is His return. Will I be ready to stand up and raise my head at His return? Will I be prepared? Am I even expecting Him or have I checked out?

Paul taught the young Church at Thessalonica and us today about those choices. They are before us because Jesus promised His return in glory. The angels on the Mount of the Ascension attested to it: “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.”

So what are we to do, we in our youth and our not so youth? The Church at Thessalonica took Paul’s advice. They did what was necessary. They lived in constant and urgent expectation. They not only lived it, but also shared expectation so others might be saved. Time to stand up and do likewise.