Both yesterday and today’s Gospel readings are about faith – in one case about the abundance of faith and in the other, the lack of faith. In yesterday’s Gospel, the woman who had been afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years had faith that “If I but touch his clothes I shall be cured.” She touched his cloak and, indeed, was immediately cured. In the same Gospel, the synagogue official had faith that if Jesus would only lay His hands on his sick daughter, she would live. Jesus took her by the hand and she lived.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is in his “native place,” where the people see in him only “the carpenter, the son of Mary” and therefore take offense at Him. Because they lacked any faith in Jesus, “he was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people.”
One of the things that always strikes me when I reflect on these passages is the role of our faith in what God accomplishes in us. In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus tells the woman, “your faith has saved you,” and in today’s Gospel the people’s lack of faith limited what Jesus could accomplish in them.
At one level, this is hard for us to understand. It seems strange to say that God, who presumably has no need for anything, needs our faith to get anything done. And “need” may not be the right word to use. Maybe the better way to put it is that our faith opens us up to the power of God operating in us. That without faith, we somehow close ourselves to God’s grace, close ourselves to God’s healing touch. However we phrase it, it is clear that our faith means something, that it matters to God.