Tuesday February 3, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Samuel 18:9-10, 14b, 24-25a, 30-19:3)
Gospel (St. Mark 5:21-43)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear about this woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with these hemorrhages, and she came up behind the Lord desiring simply to touch His cloak, thinking, “If I can only touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed.” So she reaches out and touches His cloak and is healed, and then in fear she pulls away. As the Lord seeks the person who touched Him, the woman grew in fear, came up before Him, knelt down trembling, and told him the whole truth; at which point, the Lord told her to be at peace because she had been cured. Then He turns right around and says to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; have faith.” We see this juxtaposition of someone who had come to the Lord, had received this healing, and now was afraid. The synagogue official gets the word that his daughter has in fact died, and Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.”
He looks at each one of us and is going to say the exact same thing: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” That is all that is necessary for us. Just trust the Lord. The problem is that we try to take things into our own hands, and we become like this woman who had been cured by the Lord. We want to sneak up behind Him rather than dealing with the situation as it should be, and then we get afraid. When things seem a little bit out of control, when we cannot keep it in its little cubbyhole, we immediately try to control it or we get terrified; and in our fear, we pull away from the Lord and we pull into ourselves. This man, having heard that his daughter was dead, had to have complete faith. He had already come to the Lord to ask Him to heal his daughter, but now he had to have complete faith that the Lord would indeed be able to do what He was being asked to do.
So too for us, do we really believe? Do we really trust the Lord completely that He is going to do what He has promised? It does not mean necessarily that He is going to work great miracles for us in the sense of raising the dead to life or healing our illnesses or whatever – He certainly can if He wishes to do so – but He simply looks at each one of us and says, “Do not be afraid; have faith.” All we need to do is have faith in the Lord. Trust Him, and trust that, whatever the circumstances are in our lives, somehow this is for our good and for the greater glory of God. It does not seem like it and it does not feel like it at the time, but it is only when we look back at it in retrospect that we are ever able to see that. But it should have happened in our lives so many times by now that we should be able to figure out that even in the midst of the difficulty we simply need to remain at peace – in fact, continue to praise God – and trust. But how often does it happen and we still do not learn the lesson? So the Lord has to keep telling us the same thing.
Given the time that we live in, we just simply have to think of our Holy Father. The first words out of his mouth in 1978 were “Be not afraid” and ever since then he has been repeating the exact same words. If the motto of our Holy Father were not so beautiful about Our Lady, I suspect his motto would probably be “Be not afraid” because he has repeated it so many times. Just trust. Trust on the universal level for what is going on in the Church and in the world; trust on the personal level for what is going on in your life. It is the same principle. God is in charge. We have our part to do in cooperating; everything else is up to Him. Be not afraid – just have faith.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.