I spent Memorial Day weekend with friends at their lake house in Bloomington, Indiana, and on Sunday we went to the Indianapolis 500. I’m not a racing fan, but I must admit that it was a great experience. Racing is the largest spectator sport in the United States. The Indy 500 is proof of that, with more than 300,000 people in attendance. However, unlike other sports, it’s the type of sport that many of us will never attempt. When it comes to race car driving you and I will most likely remain on the sidelines.
Besides Jesus, two figures stand out in this Sunday’s gospel: Jairus and the woman with a hemorrhage. Both of them had heard about Jesus; maybe they’d even seen him. But now they’re at wits’ end: Jairus’s daughter is dying and the woman’s condition is worsening. So what do they do? They put faith into action. There is a movement that takes place in their lives: until that point, they were distant from Jesus; but now they approach him and their faith comes to life as they encounter him.
This important movement from hearing about Jesus to approaching Jesus in faith is the kind of spiritual movement that ought to happen in us. Faith is not meant to be stagnant. Faith, given to us at baptism, is meant to grow; it’s meant to be a living, dynamic reality in our lives.
A temptation for us in our faith-life is to be like fans: to be spectators, but not to jump in the race. Practicing Catholics, if asked, will say that they have faith. They go to church and say their prayers. But is it faith like the people in this gospel: a dynamic movement toward Jesus, reaching out to touch him in prayer? You see, just because we go to church doesn’t mean that we have dynamic faith. The faith we see in this gospel is total surrender to Jesus. Both Jairus and the woman reach out to Christ and surrender to him for healing. They entrust their lives to him. We can go to church but still be spectator Catholics because interiorly we have not surrendered to Jesus.
So how do we experience this spiritual movement from spectator faith to a living, dynamic faith? We acknowledge that it is Christ who takes the initiative. He first reaches out to us; then we must surrender to him and enter into a personal relationship with him.
This dynamic movement makes all the difference in the world in our faith-life. Jairus and the woman could have watched Christ pass by, but they approached him in faith and the results were literally life-changing. If we imitate them, surrendering ourselves to Christ, then we will see life-changing results in our lives too.