From my reflection for my Frassati young adult group today:
While Jesus was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
To me this is the most dramatic point in today’s Gospel reading, because the level or quality of the synagogue official’s faith has to change in an instant. Before, he was still doing something brave–he was approaching a man whom he thought could work miracles, whom he may have seen heal others, even though this man might not have been too popular among some of his friends. But then, almost immediately after the official makes an expression of faith in Jesus’s power to heal, the worst thing possible happens: he is told that his daughter is dead!
I find it fascinating that the synagogue official is tempted in two ways here. First, to give up hope: “Your daughter is dead.” She now seems to be past the point of a miracle cure. But the second, more insidious temptation, comes in the second part of the sentence: “Why trouble the teacher any longer?” You’re not just being foolish–say the synagogue official’s friends–you’re wasting Jesus’s time. How often we are made to feel this way! Even when we try our best to overcome the hurdles of faith when it seems most difficult, something might tempt us to say, “Does God really care about this? About me and my complaints?” We’re so used to being treated as objects that need to prove our worth that it can be so hard to sit in the presence of God and receive His unconditional love. “Maybe it’s not unconditional,” we start to wonder. And then we start weighing our own worth, the worthiness of our petitions, and, ultimately, we stop asking for anything at all.
But here Jesus gives us the perfect reaction to such a temptation: he disregards it. It’s a lie. God does care about me, about my worries, and about my problems; moreover, He wants to heal me! If you’ve reached a point of discouragement in your spiritual life, ask yourself–who do I tend to listen to in this Gospel passage? Jesus or the crowds?