February 1, 2011 - Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

The theme of the readings today is “struggle”. To struggle is to fight, specifically to fight against a force preventing you from moving toward your goal. Without a goal there cannot be a struggle. We see a woman trying to touch Jesus’ cloak, and there is a crowd in her way. We see a man trying to help his daughter, and in his way are several people who are telling him that what his effort is useless. We hear in the reading from Hebrews an exhortation to all Christians to run the race despite the sin clinging to us.

What an interesting point: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” There is such a difference between the way that a person struggles and the way that a desperate person struggles. Of course, desperate is exactly the wrong word but conveys the right image. Desperate means “without hope”, but a person without hope does not struggle at all. What I mean by a desperate person is someone who has nothing except hope. The woman who needed healing did not stand on the sidelines and vaguely wish that she could touch Jesus’ cloak; some pushing and shoving went on. When the people came up to Jairus and tried to tell him to give up on his daughter, we are told that Jesus disregarded them, but if one of them stood in front of Jairus and grabbed him by the shoulders and tried to get him to see reason (“Your child is dead! Give up!”) I think they may have gotten a broken nose.

Now consider your struggle against sin. Are you struggling recklessly or, when you first feel the slightest resistance, do you twist a little bit before shrugging your shoulders and giving up, like a bad actor? Our attitude toward temptation should be like a three-year-old’s attitude toward naps: there should be some kicking and screaming involved. “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” When you have ropes and chains holding you to sin and you want to run to Jesus, you going to have to struggle. You might lose your shirt or some skin. It’s going to hurt, but that’s okay: it’s just the feeling of what is holding you down finally tearing away.