November 5 – Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost (7th of Luke), Tone 5 Luke 8:41-56
The Gift of Faith: Luke 8:41-56, especially vs. 48: “And He said to her, ‘Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’” In this passage we find two accounts of divine healing, one involving a woman and the other a child. These accounts invite us to reflect on how faith relates to healing. Take note especially of the words of Jesus, who says, “Faith has made you well.” A little later, He says to Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well” (vs. 50).
Let us begin with Jesus’ second directive, involving the cure of the child. It contains two commands: first, to “not be afraid,” and second, to “believe” (vs. 50). The Lord then sets forth an outcome, a future condition: “She will be made well.” This last remark, in contrast to the commands, is in passive form. This grammatical construction omits reference to the agent of the verb, conveying only the idea that “she will be made well” by something, or someone, unspecified.
Now let us turn to the remark our Lord addresses to the woman who comes in search of healing. Here he declares active accomplishment: “Your faith has made you well” (vs. 48). The agent of healing – faith – is the subject in this instance.
What conclusion may be drawn from a comparison of the two statements? Both imply that faith plays an effective role in healing. It would be perfectly acceptable – both grammatically and theologically – for the Lord to say to the father of the child, “She will be made well by your faith.” This meaning is certainly implied when the Lord commands the father to “only believe!”
Regardless of the strength or weakness of our faith, we know God to be the source of life and healing. The evangelist could have said, “She will be made well by God.” Is it by faith, then, or by the Lord that our healing comes? The passage teaches that both are necessary. Let us examine the facts.
First, we see that Christ is the One who heals in both instances. Yes, the woman is healed because she reaches out in faith to touch the hem of His garment, even before power (dynamis) goes forth from the Lord (vs. 46). She must have faith in order to touch Him. Still, the narrative makes clear that both her faith and the action of the Son of God are required.
In the second example, we find the same two elements present. In the case of Jairus, we can safely assume that no ruler of a synagogue is likely to fall down at someone’s feet unless he believes that this person can truly help him. Jairus has faith.
Moreover, the Lord Jesus’ commands to Him are obviously intended to counter any loss of faith on the ruler’s part. When the news comes that his daughter is dead, loss of faith seems a likely outcome. As if that is not enough of a blow, Jairus must now walk home past a group of mourners who know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the girl is dead.
The Lord’s double command aims to keep the father’s faith intact (vs. 50). But Christ our God must still issue His command of healing: “Little girl, arise” (vs. 54). Both human faith and divine action are required for healing. No amount of human faith alone will reverse death when it is permitted by God. On the other hand, faith may join with God’s will to extend life and grant healing (see 2 Kgs 20:1-5, 4 Kgs 20:1-5).
God knows our needs and encourages us to seek Him for healing. We may expect great things from our God when we place our faith in Him, for He is both life-giving and merciful.
O Master, Lord our God, Physician of souls and bodies, Who dost cure temporal sufferings and healest every infirmity and every wound of men; save us and bring us to true faith. – Mystery of Holy Unction