The other night I was watching my favorite college basketball team play. There were about 9 minutes left in the game and despite being at home they were losing by 14 points. They were playing terribly, losing badly, time was running out, and I gave up. I turned to my wife and said, this game is over. I could not see any way at all that my team could win this game. But slowly, inexorably, and improbably, they began to come back. They narrowed the gap and finally took the lead with just a couple of minutes to play. They seized the lead, expanded it, and won the game. I had given up, I didn’t think they could win. They, however, never gave up, they believed that they could win, even when they were losing badly, they believed they could still find a way to win the game. Even though their situation seemed hopeless, they never gave up hope. This situation finds a parallel in the Gospel reading for today.
A woman has suffered from a hemorrhage for years. Nothing has helped her, nothing has made her better. All that she has has gone to doctors in an attempt to treat her illness, but nothing has worked. He suffering has continued unabated with no end in sight, with no apparent reason to hope that it will ever end. Yet on hearing of Jesus, she has hope. Hope that would seem unreasonable, even illogical, but hope. She clings to that hope, seeks Jesus out, then seizes the opportunity, trusting enough that all she needed to do was touch the hem of his cloak. Her faith, her hope, saved her. The synagogue official had hope as well, and he sought Jesus, believing that all Jesus need do was lay hands on his dying child and she would be saved. While on the way, the child died. People came to tell the official, tell him that his daughter had died, that hope was gone. “Stop bothering the man, hope is gone, your daughter is dead.” Whether the official gave up hope or not, I don’t know. Jesus, however, continued to the officials home, never giving up, exhibiting hope were none seemed to be. “She isn’t dead, just sleeping.” Jesus was ridiculed for this statement, yet he went in, took the girl’s hand, and she rose. Jesus brought hope where none existed, hope where none seemed possible. We, all too often, are like that crowd, giving up, surrendering hope because everything seems so hopeless. Just as I gave up on my basketball team, thinking there was no hope, we give up, not seeing where hope may be. Yet just as my team came back, never giving up, just as the woman with the hemorrhage refused to give up, we must cling to hope. In Jesus that hope is real, is always with us. We may believe there is no reason to hope, yet with Jesus there is always hope. When we act alone we lose hope. When we turn to Jesus, all is possible. We may be behind, time may be running out, but it is never too late. There is hope. All we need do is reach out and touch.
Tuesday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time
Jan. 30, 2007