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Look at the fingernail on your baby pinky. It is very small. That is the diameter of a Roman penny. If you hold the ancient coin between your thumb and forefinger, it will disappear. There was a widow holding two pennies at the Temple treasury. No one noticed her donation. No one would be able to see her contribution because it was buried between her two fingers. Jesus, however, noticed. He also noticed that she gave everything she had and was more generous than anyone else. This shows that God notices all of our thankless jobs, unappreciated acts of kindness, and unanswered sacrifices.
I picked up Fr. Jerry at the airport. I got yelled at. A state trooper made me move the car while I waited. The night before I had parked along the street. An official had told me I could. He did not tell me that I could not park there after 8:00 p.m. So when I arrived at my car a little after 8:00 p.m. I found a yellow warning sign on the windshield telling me that I had parked illegally and I would be towed. In less than twelve hours I make two mistakes and they were all over me. I had to wonder if anyone notices all the good things I did during that same time. The Gospels tell me that someone does notice.
There is with the woman who was hemorrhaging for twelve years and sought out Jesus to be cured. There are, of course, two problems. First, she is unclean. She cannot just walk into a crowd of people bumping into everyone with her condition, making everyone ritually unclean. What if there is a priest in the crowd? If this woman comes in contact with him, he will not be able to work in the temple. He will need to sacrifice a red heifer, and that costs a lot of money.
The second problem is this: Jesus happens to be in a hurry. Jairus’s daughter is at the brink of death, and the clock is ticking. You can almost hear the sirens. Still, the woman stretches out her arm as Jesus walks by and makes contact with his clothing. It worked. She is immediately cured. For the first time in twelve years, her body is filled with health and strength. While she is in a state of euphoria, everything begins to go wrong. Jesus comes to a complete stop, and asked, “Who touched me?” The disciples are in a state of incredulity. “What are you talking about? Look at the crowd that presses in on you; everyone is bumping into you. We have an emergency to attend to; there is a girl that is dying; keep focused, you are distracted.” Jesus stands his ground, and he will not move until he finds out who touched him. The woman is busted. She knows she will be humiliated, her illness exposed, and she will probably get blamed for the child’s death. So the woman goes before the Lord and tells him the whole story: Twelve years of suffering, twelve years of doctors’ ripping her off, twelve years of a failed health care system, twelve years without making a contribution to society, twelve years of sleepless nights, twelve years without having her own twelve-year-old child, twelve years of not having a life.
If I was in that crowd, I would be thinking, “When is she going to stop talking; there is a little girl dying?” Or I may think: “Why does Jesus not tell her that He is a little busy and he has to go now?” Or perhaps I may think how this woman cut in line, making the anxious father wait. But Jesus listens to her every word. The reason why He listens is because He has all the time in the world. With great amazement, He tells her that she has great faith. He noticed. All of us in the crowd missed it.
The faith lesson here is this: Keep doing the good you are doing. All of your quiet sacrifices, your unappreciated acts of kindness are noticed.Back to All Homilies