Wisdom 1: 13-15; 2: 23-24
2 Corinthians 8: 7, 9, 13-15
Mark 5: 21-43,
Today’s readings are all about God’s great healing love for us, everyone of us, and God’s call to us to do the works of love for each other.
The gospel opens with Jairus stepping forth from the crowd and begging Jesus to heal his daughter: "Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." Jairus begs Jesus for his healing touch of love, not for himself but for his daughter. And Jesus goes off with him.
But before we can get to Jairus’s house, we have the strange incident of the hemorrhaging woman. As I begin to get into this incident, I am moved with compassion. For twelve years she has suffered these hemorrhages. Doctors have just made her worse. After spending all of her money on them, she has nothing to show for it. Moreover, she is filled with shame, for this is not just a health problem. She has an ailment that defiles her – according to the law she is ritually "unclean." It is unlawful for anyone to touch her, and it is unlawful for her to touch anyone. As long as the flow of blood continues, she remains "unclean" according to the law – an object of pity, but also an object of scorn and revulsion. She moves hidden in the crowd, a non-entity.
But "she had heard about Jesus." Still hiding in the crowd she comes up behind him and touches his cloak. "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." She has such tremendous faith in the power of Jesus – just furtively touch his cloak. She has such tremendous faith in the love of Jesus – that it exudes from his very presence, without his willfully directing it. He lives and moves in his love for others, with a power that promptly answers the needs of love. She is immediately cured. "She felt in her body that she was healed."
When I turn from this woman to look at Jesus and his disciples, I am again caught up in the mystery of this incident. He knows that he has been touched in a special way, a different way, and he doesn’t know by whom. He stops, turns, looks, and asks, "Who touched me?" The disciples are incredulous, and practically say to him – "Everyone’s jostling you, and you ask us who touched you? Who touched you? In this crowd?"
But the woman knows, and despite all her fear of the scorn of the crowd, she comes and falls down before him, pouring out her whole story – her twelve years of uncleanness and bleeding and misery and shame . . . her desire to touch his cloak to receive his healing power.
Let us glorify this very human Jesus who realizes that his Father has given him such loving power to respond to every call of faith even when he is unaware of the caller – and that moves him then to seek her out. And let us glorify this very human Jesus who responds directly to every call when asked, and lovingly touches the daughter of Jairus who pleads for his healing power. May Jesus touch us all with his healing power of love.
Br. Peter A. Fitzpatrick, CFX, a Xaverian Brother, is a Passionist Associate at Ryken House, St. Xavier High School, across the creek from the Passionist Monastery in Louisville, Kentucky.