Do Not Be Afraid—Just Have Faith
Reflection based on Mark 5:21-43
Jairus clenches his fists and takes a deep breath. Would she hurry up, this woman pouring out her life story to Jesus? His daughter is at home, in her last hours—or minutes. “Come on!” he thinks. “There isn’t time for this!” But, of course, he doesn’t say this out loud. The Teacher is the one to lead; Jairus must trust He knows what He’s doing. But does He…? These few moments, in which the woman detains the Lord, they seem to stretch on for an eternity. Then, as Jesus finishes speaking to her, Jairus’ worst fears are realized. Some of his neighbors come running up and announce, “Your daughter has died. Why trouble the teacher any longer?” His heart faltering, he turns his stricken face toward Jesus, ready to say, “You don’t have to come now….” The words fade from his lips; he sees Jesus gazing on him with utter compassion and assurance.
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
In this moment, Jairus must choose. To whom should he listen: the voices of human reason, telling him to give up hope, or the voice of this man at his side? Logic says he needn’t bother bringing Jesus to the house; it is too late. But faith points to the Lord’s divine identity and His power over life and death. Jairus nods at Jesus, and the two walk on together, the crowd following.
They draw near the house, greeted by wailing and dirge-playing. Tumult, commotion, tears—everything here says this is a house of mourning. Jesus, however, isn’t deterred. Actually, He springs into action, firmly and decisively telling the mourners to close up shop. There shall be no weeping where Life reigns. The wailers, perhaps annoyed that the curtain has closed so swiftly on their drama, protest. Momentarily digging their heels in, they ridicule Jesus. How does He know the girl has not died? Only momentarily, though, for Jesus is in earnest. Out they go, the voices of discouragement and sowers of distrust.
These voices of discouragement that surround Jairus remind me of those clamoring for our attention that bemoan the state of the world and drag people toward despair. “Give up,” they say. Give up hope and faith; settle for a cheap imitation of love. Eat, drink, and be merry…. There’s nothing else you can do.” We may, indeed, be troubled over the state of the world, but despair is to be firmly rejected by the Christian. There is always something we can do, beginning with turning to God Who holds the world in His hands.
Jesus’ voice, by contrast, is gentle, yet sure. “Take heart,” He says, “there is hope. Where I am there is Life and Light.” At His word, fear and darkness are put to flight.
Without any fanfare, Jesus brings Jairus, his wife, Peter, James and John with Him to the girl’s bedside. Taking her hand ever so tenderly, He speaks to her: “Little girl, arise.” She is restored to her parents; the faith of her loving father has been richly rewarded. The disciples, meanwhile, receive a glimpse of the victory to come through the Cross and Resurrection—the victory of Life over death.
Jesus’ death and Resurrection may seem a quiet word or a distant one in comparison to the tumult of our times. But it is decisive. When discouragement pulls us down—a tactic of the Enemy—let us remember that Jesus says to us: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Faith in the One Who loved us so much that He died for us to give us a share in His own Life. If this is so, what really is there to fear? In our most difficult moments, especially when tempted to give up hope, Jesus reaches out to grasp our hands and say, “Arise.” Arise in hope, let Life reign within, that He, our sure guide, can lead us to the place where weeping shall be no more, our home in heaven.
Sr. Cecilia Francis, CFR