In our gospel today Mark shows us Jesus with a large crowd gathered around him, setting out to heal the daughter of Jairus but interrupted on his journey by a strange incident. Thus we get two miraculous healings to consider, the first one occurring at this odd interruption. Mark’s little sympathetic details give a clear picture: "She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors . . . ." She touches Jesus’ cloak; he stops, turns, and asks who has touched his clothes. You can see the disciples throwing up their hands in despair and saying, "Practically everyone is jostling you, and you ask, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ Oy veh!" But Jesus had known at once that power had gone out from him. He just didn’t know who had received it. However, the woman knew, and she came forward to fall at his feet and tell everything.
"Power had gone out from him" – not felt by everyone around him, but only by this woman, so very much in need of it and who had sought it so ardently: "If I but touch his clothes, . . ." What is this mysterious power that this very human Jesus exudes even through his clothes? "Power had gone out from him."
Remember that in the readings five days ago Mark had described how Jesus taught his disciples by parables. Jesus told the parable of the lamp, not placed under a bushel or under a bed, but upon the lamp stand to send forth its light through the whole room.
Today Mark shows us Jesus teaching not by words, but by action; not by parables but by the actions indicated in the parable. He is the parable. What is this mysterious power that goes out from Jesus? It is light, it is compassion, it is healing: it is the love of God for us, dwelling in Jesus, made manifest by him – the great compassionate personal love that God has for this woman and pours forth upon her through Jesus. Power went out from him, the Power of divine love.
An incident from over sixty years ago comes to my mind. In my senior year after school I worked in a dry cleaning store. During that year I got quite friendly with the Jewish druggist next door, where I would go for a break (every drug store in Brooklyn had a soda fountain-lunch counter in those days). One day the druggist, Mr. Sands, talked to me a bit about his wife. "When I am upstairs taking a nap and hear Mrs. Sands come in and start to move about, I feel a great peace come over me. Everything calms down and I lie there perfectly content – just knowing she is there." I thought it was marvelous – just her presence brought him perfect peace. Power went out from her.
Haven’t we often experienced something similar? A smiling face, a smiling presence brightening our day, lifting up our spirits – making us feel it is good to be alive, good to be around that person, good to have that person around. I am convinced that Jesus moved in Mrs. Sands and moves in us, pouring God’s love from one to the other. Where do we get such power? Like the woman who suffered from hemorrhages, we get it from Jesus. We go to him, we contact him, we touch him, we sit in his presence – and his power goes out from him to us, enabling us, even when we are not aware, to bring his power to others.
Peter Fitzpatrick, CFX, is a Xaverian Brother living at Ryken Hiouse, Louisville, across Bear Grass Creek from the Passionist Community Sacred Heart Monastery.