Being Put on Hold

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:


No Fun When You’re Put on Hold

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas July 1, 2018

Reverend father’s brothers and sisters in Christ. I suppose we could title this homily, when your life is put on hold.

Being put on hold is a familiar and a frustrating experience for many of us, and particularly frustrating when the matter you’re calling about is urgent. They even add pleasant music to the hold buttons now days. Maybe it’s meant to keep you entertained but that’s a laughable scenario too, isn’t it? It really doesn’t help much when the situation is serious, in fact it is even more irritating! Life is no fun when you are put on hold.

Picture this frustrated father in the gospel reading for today. His daughter is dying. He has no phone, of course, and no ability to dial 911. He did hear there was a specialist nearby who may be able to save his daughter. So he puts on his coat and searches the community for this esteemed physician. When he finds him he hurries up to him, even though he is a man of some importance and power in the community. This worried father lays aside his pride and literally gets down on his knees at the physician’s feet and begs him to come to see his daughter.

The father’s name is Jairus. This esteemed physician’s name is Jesus. He asked Jesus to come and lay his hands on the little girl? Of course He would! And Mark tells us simply, “Jesus went with them.”

But wait, there’s a break in the story. While Jesus is making his way through the crowd, a woman with an issue of blood reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. Jesus stops, engages her in conversation and minsters to her in a beautiful way.

Can you imagine, how Jairus felt watching this? His young daughter is dying and this irksome woman is trying to tie up Jesus’ time with her complaint. Can you imagine the stress that frantic father was under at this particular moment? He is being put on hold while the master ministers to another.

The same thing happened to Mary and Martha. They sent for Jesus at the sickness of their brother Lazarus but it was days before Jesus responded. “If you had been here,” they said, with a hint of accusation, “our brother would not have died.”

Why isn’t the master quicker to respond, doesn’t he know that the matter is urgent? Is there anyone here who has not asked that question at one time or another about God? So also, we are told, nurses have more stress than physicians because they have less control but still having the responsibility. My short stay in the hospital about a month ago certainly supports that statement. For the nurses do a wonderful job!

Going back to the story of Jairus, we find Jesus ministering to the woman who has been ill for a very long time. Then Jairus’ worst fears are realized, some friends came from his house to inform him that his daughter had died. Why bother the master any longer? Poor Jairus, can’t you feel a tug at your own heart for his loss! His friends are trying to console him but there is really a limit to how much help your best friend can give you at a moment like this? Something more is needed.

Fortunately Jesus was there. He had not forsaken Jairus just as he does not forsake us. He probably even touched him on the arm or shoulder as he said, “don’t be afraid, just believe.” He was asking a lot of this man as he so often says to us, just have faith!

A man by the name of Roger lost a little daughter in a car accident; and being he was steeped in music he listened to a little tape repeatedly, that said,

“in a world that’s wracked by sin and sorrow.
“There is peace.
“When you hind no hope for your tomorrow, there is peace.
“When it seems your heavy burden is too much to bear.
“There in Jesus, there is perfect peace.”

Now we find Jesus approaching Jairus’ house along with three of his closest friends. There is Peter, James, and John. When he came into the house he saw family and friends weeping loudly. “Why all this crying and commotion?” Jesus said, “The girl is not dead she is only sleeping.”

Those gathered there ridiculed his diagnosis. He asked them to leave the house. Then he went into the room where the little girl lay. Taking her by the hand he said to the little girl, “Talitha cumi.” “Little girl, I say to you arise.” And she arose.

Does your faith tell you that yes, Jesus can do that? We can tell stories of how we know Jesus has intervened, and sometimes we can even tell stories of how it seems that Jesus’ response was on hold.

A short personal response would go something like this: It appears I can account for more failures than for successes. But after Agnes and I married I studied the repair of office machines and you know what happened to that? One day electronics took over and all of our mechanical machines were virtually worthless. Now what? Putting into practice what I learned not only in school but in everyday life I was able to keep the shop open doing a variety of things. To shorten the story I want to share with you the fact that Agnes and I prayed for a long time, it seemed that I could get into something I can handle. Then one day my mother asked me to take her cuckoo clock to Lawrence Lahr to have it repaired. He said “I can’t do that anymore;” his hands were shaking and I could readily see why. He said, “with your background why don’t you want to do this?” Almost under my breath I wondered if it was beneath my dignity to work on clocks. His wife called their customers and sent the clocks they had, home with me. By the weekend I had them all running and without knowing it, had found a new trade.

How long it took for us to realize that it was an answer to prayer, I do not remember. But I remember, when I did thank God, I was ashamed that it took so long to realize that the hold on our prayers was now fully realized. It’s hard to believe sometimes that all the work I had done on office machines now comes back to be used in value in repairing of clocks even to the point where I now use the same toolbox.

It’s kind of like one day I was trying to explain to a young lady how all our prayers may have been already answered in heaven, but for some reason the time isn’t right for them to be brought to earth, and we must have patience, we must have faith.

Checking my watch: I find it’s high time to move on.

So, you all be Good, be Holy, preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words.


(‘Thank you’ to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here — Brian H. Gill.)


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6 Responses to Being Put on Hold

  1. Manny says:

    That passage from Mark – the juxtaposition of of the women with the hemorrhage and the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter is one of my favorite in the New Testament. It is the touch that heals, the woman touching Jesus’ clothing and Jesus’ touching the little girl’s hand. Interesting that the woman has been hemorrhaging for twelve years and the little girl is twelve years old. Not sure what to make of that.

    • – – – and there were twelve tribes, twelve disciples: the number twelve recurs a lot. Good point, good question. And now that you mention it, I’m not sure what to make of it either.

      My background encourages wariness of overly-eager searches for ‘symbolic’ meaning in the Bible’s numbers. But I recognize that numbers did and do have meanings.

      For example, from Catechism 191 ( http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2.htm#191 ) “…In accordance with an ancient tradition, already attested to by St. Ambrose, it is also customary to reckon the articles of the Creed as twelve, thus symbolizing the fullness of the apostolic faith by the number of the apostles….”

      Thanks for taking time to comment – and raising an interesting point.

      • Manny says:

        Actually not just the number. I was thinking on the coincidence of being the same number, no matter what the number. The girl was born the same year the hemorrhages started. The two stories are intertwined, just like the flow of the narrative. Notice that Jarius comes to Jesus with his problem, and before Jesus goes off to help the daughter, the narrative of the woman with the hemorrhage interrupts. Once that is over, Jesus goes to help the girl. I can’t think of another instance like that in the New Testament.

        And ponder on this further. The woman with the hemorrhage is essentially dead to the Jewish world because of her problem, but she is returned to life with the cure. The girl is twelve and at the verge of menstruating, if she hasn’t already. She needs to be purified with each menstruation or she is dead to the Jewish world. The two stories are just so interconnected.

        • Well-spotted. I see what you mean, now that you spell it out. And agreed.

          Repetition is an effective rhetorical tool for emphasis. In this case, and thank you for this point – these points. I’ll most likely be looking through that reading again.

  2. Thank you, Brian, for posting this. It helped me a lot.

    Taking up Manny’s point. Jesus was very powerful. Often people brought their sick to Him. Often, there were many together needing help. He could have just clicked His fingers and all would have been healed. By He did not do that. He touched the blind’s eyes, the deaf’s ears, He always touched people and gave them one to one attention, and healing, and love. Just as He does now.

    God bless.

Thanks for taking time to comment!