Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time (Memorial of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr)

(Hebrews 2:1-4; Mark 5:21-43)

Once, a class of divinity students started to pray.  They exclaimed something like, “We just want to thank you; we only ask that you hear us.”  The professor interrupted them, “What do you mean ‘We just want to thank you’ and ‘we only ask you’? Don’t you know that God is always ready to hear our prayers.”  One of the students then explained in words similar to these: “Professor, we are simple people without a Ph.D. in theology.  We don’t mean take for granted that the Lord is greater than us.”  The professor wrote that he learned from his students that day and started to use such expressions himself.  In today’s reading two people – a poor woman and a synagogue official – exhibit similar deference to Jesus as the students.

After Jesus heals the woman with hemorrhages, she is afraid to admit that she was the one who touched him.  No doubt she feels that she had no right to impose herself on a man so close to God.  The synagogue official also indicates a reluctance to bother Jesus after messengers come to say that his daughter already is dead.  But Jesus does not feel constrained by either person.  Indeed, he blesses the woman even further and goes to raise from the dead the official’s daughter.

We also should approach Jesus with our needs.  He is ready to help us.  It is not wrong to recognize his lordship with appropriate words, but they are not necessary.  Indeed, as one commentator has observed, the only person in the four gospels to address Jesus simply by his name is the thief who was crucified at his side.  According to the Gospel of Luke Jesus promises that thief a place in Paradise.