My Dear Sisters and Brothers. We don’t doubt that God exists, do we? We are not atheists. However we may feel that we are left on our own, that so many times heaven seemed to be shut to our prayers. We may quietly think that we are disadvantaged as we have not seen the Lord Jesus.
Let us recall what happened in the Synagogue in Nazareth. It was the hometown of Jesus. That Synagogue was like his parish church, community hall, primary and high school. The people, whom he met when he went home, were in much better situation than that woman suffering from haemorrhage. So many times they hugged Jesus and were hugged by Jesus. So many times they helped Jesus and were helped by Jesus. So many times they spoke to Jesus and were spoken to by Jesus. If one touch brought healing to the woman there should have been plenty of miracles in Nazareth. However St Mark wrote with surprise that ‘Jesus could work no miracles there, though he cured a few sick people.’
The explanation for such a surprising outcome we find in Jesus’ own reaction to both events. This is what Jesus said to the woman: ‘Your faith has restored you to health.’ This is what Jesus thought after visiting his hometown: ‘He was amazed at their lack of faith.’ Faith is the answer. The woman was healed not because she touched Jesus but because she had faith in Jesus. The people of Nazareth knew so much about Jesus but they had no faith.
My Dear fellow believers! Faith is a gift given by God freely and lovingly. Therefore this gift of faith can be received only freely and lovingly. Ezekiel received the spirit of God so that he could be a prophet, the mouth of God in the midst of his fellow men and women. Prophets were a gift given to the people of Israel so that the Word of God could be heard in the midst of the Nation, because ‘faith comes from hearing.’ However God was not forcing his Word onto people. He was giving it freely and lovingly. Those who received it freely and lovingly became people of faith.
In the fullness of time, two thousand years ago, God sent his Son. ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ as St John wrote in his Gospel. However like with any gift, God the Father didn’t force his Son onto us. He gave him freely and lovingly so that Jesus could be welcomed freely and lovingly. When some people reject Jesus, like the residents of Nazareth did, it shows that God still loves. He doesn’t forces us.
Recently I have watched a beautiful movie about the events which took place in Fatima in 1917 where Mary appeared to the three little children. One of the children, the little boy whose name was Francesco, said that he didn’t pray much. Than some people said to him: ‘Why should the Virgin Mary come to someone who doesn’t pray enough?’ We can say that it is because God’s gift is not a reward for some good life. It is the source of good life and more importantly eternal salvation.
My Dear fellow believers. Are we disadvantaged because we haven’t seen and touched Jesus like that woman from the last Sunday’s Gospel? We have just heard the Word of God proclaimed to us during this first part of the Mass. The Word of God has brought us the Spirit of God evoking and sustaining faith in us so that as we move to the second part of or Mass, to the Liturgy of the Eucharist we could look at the bread and wine and say after St Thomas the Apostle, whom we honoured yesterday: ‘My Lord and my God.’ Then as we go back to our homes we can also say in the midst of whatever happens to us: ‘My Lord and my God’ I believe you. I trust you because: ‘Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’