I think we all know how frustrating it is to call a company on the phone to ask for information or get technical assistance, and to be put on hold. You never know how long you are going to have to wait – it could me seconds, or it could be fifteen minutes – and every minute or two, they play back a message saying, “All our operators are currently busy, but your call is important to us. Please wait, and a representative will answer your call as soon as possible.” We feel that if our call were really important to them, they’d hire more people to answer the phones faster – and give the economy a boost at the same time.
Sometimes, prayer can feel that way. We can be facing serious difficulties, whether they be struggles against sin, or problems with health or finances, for ourselves or people we love. Sometimes God seems to respond right away, but other times we wait for a long time and see no results – like in today’s Gospel reading. The woman who touches Jesus’ cloak is cured immediately, and Jesus stops to speak with her, while Jairus, the synagogue official, stands by, wracked with fear and nervousness for the life of his daughter – who in fact dies before Jesus arrives. Jairus probably felt like shouting, “It’s not fair! I asked Jesus to come first!”
Yet, what seemed like an unjust delay was something else in God’s eyes. To begin with, the sick woman had been seeking a cure for 12 years – the entire lifetime of Jairus’ daughter. Then too, Jesus might have allowed the girl to die in order to perform an even greater miracle. Healing is one thing; raising from the dead – which Jesus actually did for Jairus’ daughter – is a greater manifestation of Jesus’ love and divinity, more likely to move people to faith in God.
So, whether God answers us quickly or allows us to wait “on hold”, our “call” really is important to Him. If He delays, it is only for some greater good. We may not get the answer we hoped for in this life, but if we are faithful in trying to reject sin and do God’s will, He will eventually resolve all things for our good. So let us take the advice of St Paul in the first reading today, and “rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”