Today’s homily is based on Mark 5:21-43.
Today we are treated not to one, but to two miracles of Jesus! And they also aren’t just your typical Jesus miracles , where the Lord lays his hand on the sick or the possessed, and they are healed. There’s something quite unique about these two miracles, and they offer us some interesting and valuable lessons.
The first miracle is the raising of the synagogue official’s daughter. It is remarkable because Jesus doesn’t just heal her, but brings the child back to life, making her only the third person that we know the Lord has raised—the others being Lazarus and the son of the widow at Nain.
But what makes this miracle even more remarkable is that Jesus raises her back to life without the child’s father asking him to do so. When they receive word of the child’s death, Jesus takes over and disregards the suggestion that he no longer pursue the journey. In spite of the ridicule he receives in the official’s house, Jesus proceeds to raise the girl back to life.
This has been the Lord’s way in the three incidents that he has raised people from the dead. No one suggests it; no one dares—not Martha, not the widow of Nain, not this synagogue official. It is too wonderful to conceive of, but Jesus performs the miracle even when it is not requested.
That’s the first lesson we learn about the Lord: He will do wonderful things—beyond what we ask for, beyond what we can conceive of—as long as we keep our faith in him.
The second miracle—sandwiched within the first and not included in some Gospel readings—is the healing of the woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. She decides on her own that since it seems impossible to catch the Lord’s attention in that crowd, she might as well take matters into her own hands and reach for the hem of his garment. Touching it, she convinces herself, may just heal her.
What’s so special about this miracle is not so much that it actually works, but that Jesus doesn’t even know he is healing her until afterwards, when he detects his healing power issuing from him. In most miracles, the Lord knows and makes a conscious decision to heal someone. But this miracle happens with neither his knowledge nor will.
This incident shows us just how causally efficacious the Lord is: His miraculous powers do not even require him to make a conscious decision to use them! It seems that miracles will happen as long as the conditions are there—in both these two cases, an unwavering faith and proximity to the Lord.
I used to think that at the very least, a miracle requires our requesting for it or the Lord deciding to grant our request. But it seems that all we need to do is stay close to him and dare to believe in what seems impossible. These two miracle stories teach us that even miracles can happen miraculously. Ours is truly a God whose power is so great that it can surprise not only us but—once ina while—Him as well!