While Jesus was speaking, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples.
Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.
When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.
A leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him.
In the hymn Will you come and follow me, the writers John Bell and Graham Maule ask these questions: Will you go where you don’t know? Will you leave yourself behind? Will you risk the hostile stare? Will you love the ‘you’ you hide? In today’s reading we see a leader of the synagogue answering ‘Yes’ to these questions as he comes in and kneels before Jesus.
In desperation we often cry out for God’s help, just like that leader of the synagogue. But, sadly, when our prayers are answered we fail to thank God. Instead, we return to our normal everyday lives and we speak of human endeavour and skill, we speak of good luck!
As God answers our prayers we are called to remain steadfast in the faith. We are called to allow God, through his healing power, to far exceed that which responded to the urgency of our primary request. We do not know what happened after today’s brief passage from Matthew’s gospel. We do not know whether the leader of the synagogue became a disciple of Jesus, or whether he became one of those who would shout for him to be crucified. But, we do know that, despite his influential position in a community that was opposed to Jesus, his prayer was answered, his daughter was restored to life and another suffering soul also experienced his healing and wholeness.
It took courage, as well as desperation, for the leader of the synagogue and the suffering woman to come to Jesus and to ask for his help. For the granting of that healing and wholeness they had to admit their weakness. We are called to do the same. We are called to summon the strength to acknowledge that it is only through Jesus that our lives can be cleansed and made whole. Let us pray for the strength to go where we don’t know; to leave ourselves behind; to risk the hostile stare and to love the person God knows us to be.