Today’s reading is one of my favorite Gospel accounts. This is a miracle story within a miracle story. The account begins with an official requesting that Jesus come to bring back to life his daughter who has died. Jesus “rose and followed him”, and while on the way, a woman comes and touches the tassel of Jesus’ cloak, is healed, and the story continues on to describe how Jesus brings the daughter of the official back to life and there is no more mention of the woman.
What stands out for me is not the raising of the officials daughter, but the healing of the woman. Her whole life is changed by her encounter with Jesus. She had been suffering with her condition and seeking help but received none for twelve years. And for that whole time, she was also considered ritually unclean because of her ongoing hemorrhaging. She must have also been very weak resulting from the continual blood loss and to many she was considered all but dead.
This woman must have been on the verge of losing all hope, when Jesus drew close. She was quite aware that to approach a male in public was forbidden and what was even worse, because of her condition, she was not allowed to come close or to touch anyone. Yet, she moved forward. She must have experienced such anxiety and fear arise with each step. If she was caught she could be ridiculed, admonished, or even stoned to death, or worse, nothing about her condition would change. Step by faithful step, she drew closer to Jesus and reached out to touch the tassel of his cloak.
She could have slipped away, just as she came. Yet, “Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, ‘Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.’ And from that hour the woman was cured” (Mt9:22). Jesus felt the healing power go out from him to the woman and instead of admonishing or correcting, he acknowledged the courage and faith she displayed. Because she was willing to come close despite all the inner and outer turmoil that whirled around her to the contrary, this woman who was all but the walking dead was given new life!
This woman’s encounter with Jesus is a wonderful one for us to meditate upon. She did not stop seeking a way for healing. She persisted, and when the moment came, she moved forward to come close to Jesus. May we too, no matter what we face have the courage of this woman to reach out to Jesus for his healing power and strength.
True freedom comes when we trust in Jesus’ daily invitation to say yes to his Father and no matter what anxieties, fears, doubts, challenges, trials, or tribulations swirl about us, be as persistent and as courageous as this woman and trust in Jesus so as to be healed and empowered by the love of the Holy Spirit to live our life to the full, today and all days!!!
Happy Fourth of July everyone. My prayers are with you.