June 28, 2015


Do not be afraid; just have faith. – Mark 5: 36

   Easier said than done. Life is so uncertain & fragile. The only things we can be certain of in life are the uncertainties. My hospital experience in London when I was doing my pastoral-clinical  training as a seminarian:

It was late on a Friday afternoon when a 57 year old man was brought in from Heathrow airport by the police. It seems he had had a psychotic break while going through customs & thought the officials were communist guards (he & his wife were returning from vacation in Yugoslavia) & had become violent. The resident psychiatrist who could commit people against their will had gone home for the day, so his wife had to talk him into going voluntarily to a hospital for the mentally ill. Even then, it took 3 burly male nurses (he had amazing strength) to get him into the ambulance. The ambulance driver’s mate had called in sick that day, & the rear door could not be locked; so the driver refused to take the man & his wife without 2 volunteers to stay with them while he drove. A young intern & my self volunteered, & got in. He tried to give the man a sedative with an injection, but the man resisted violently, so we let it go. As soon as we pulled out into traffic, the man shoved his wallet out a narrow vent onto the street shouting, “You won’t get it now!”  He then proceeded to pace around the ambulance like a caged lion for the hour & 20 minutes it took to get to the hospital. The intern & I sat at the back door with our legs stretched across it. I think that was the most tense time of my life. Thank goodness his wife was there to calm him down from time to time. After he had been escorted into the hospital, the intern just sat down & wept while shaking all over.

   Words like “Do not be afraid; just have faith” didn’t mean much to us just then. Yet for the Christian who really does have faith, the trials of life CAN be redemptive, for neither suffering nor death have the final word. An old saying: “Unless there is something within us that is over us, we shall succumb to that which is around us.”

   We have come together in this Mass in the conviction that we shall not succumb, but overcome!  By His wounds we have been healed. By our faith in the redemptive, healing power of God we are freed from bondage to uncertainty & despair – & this is our salvation! To the man Jairus, deeply concerned about his daughter’s uncertain future, Jesus could say, “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.” I think most of us could identify with the panic of the father if we’ve lived long enough. 

   A football coach at the start of each season would say to his players, “If you want to play this game, you must expect to get hit & get hurt.” This is one of life’s great certainties. Yet the good news of our faith is that in God’s unfathomable plan for us, the hits & hurts CAN have a redemptive quality. God wants us to discover the true meaning for our lives in the midst of our joys & sorrows, BOTH. In Jesus God Himself identifies with all our uncertainties.

   His will is that we be healed, but not in any superficial way. For those of us impatient for quick results, this can be hard to swallow sometimes. True healing goes deeper than any physical wounds & often takes time.

   Knowledge of life’s greatest treasure is revealed to us by our Lord, but in order to experience it we must journey inward. It is never out of reach to those willing to journey in faith to the meeting place with God in the sacraments, in prayer & in our hearts. We are free to make the spiritual pilgrimage which yields the treasure of abundant life in Christ, knowing that we are loved by God no matter what may happen.  AMEN!