On both occasions Jesus shows practical compassion even if one is characterised by confusion and the other by delay.
A 19th century saying from enslaved African Americans goes: God may not come when you call him, but he’ll be there right on time!
There’s a lot to ponder in that seemingly contradictory statement, one borne out of a real experience for how faith can meet adversity yet still get through.
Perhaps we could add a further thought to St Paul’s litany all about love in 1 Corinthians 13 and say: Love doesn’t look at the clock.
That is, love has time for people, makes time, finds time – even willingly ‘wastes’ time in loving others.
These healings in Sunday’s lectionary just remind us yet again that Jesus chooses to leave people in a better condition than he finds them. In other words, no matter how hard pressed or time restricted, love finds a way.
A couple of friends of mine took a long train journey down to Devon last week to visit a sick relative – they hardly knew how appropriate this act of kindness was. They deliberately and compassionately made that time to be with someone they loved. Just a minute upon arriving back home they received the telephone call that their relative has just passed away.
When we make the time, when we stay to listen, when we drive a loved one to Casualty in the middle of the night, when we visit a relative lost in dementia – that’s the way ‘God turns up’. Or as those 19th century African Americans said: God may not come when you call him, but he’ll be there right on time’.
Love, it does what it can, without looking at the clock.