Today we read the in the book of Samuel the desire of Israel to have a king. Samuel is coming to the end of his life and his sons are not fit to replace him. Rather than wait for a new Judge or Prophet the Jewish people ask for a king to be appointed over them. God makes the decision plain to them – listen to what they will have to give up to have a king:
11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
Why would they agree to this? The people themselves tell us:
19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
The Jewish people were basically willing to give up all their freedom for security and to be like other nations. It really isn’t much different today.
We see Jesus called to the house of a synagogue official to heal his sick daughter. Huge crowds press in upon him as he travels. One person, a woman with a hemorrhage, knows that if she can just touch Jesus’ cloak she will be healed. She fights her way through the crowd and touches the hem of his garment. Immediately she is cured. Jesus stops and this exchange takes place:
And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me? ‘” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
This scene reminds me of the Garden of Eden, when after having eaten the forbidden fruit Adam and Even hide. God comes to the garden and asks them where they are and why they are hiding. Of course, God knew where Adam and Eve were and why they were hiding, just as Jesus knows now who touched his garment and why. What is important to understand is that God doesn’t ask because he doesn’t know, God asks because He wants us to come to him and confess with our lips. God, who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves, knows that we need to seek him out and knows that because we are material creatures we need to seek, speak, feel and hear. What would have happened to this woman had Jesus not stopped and spoken to her? Would she have come to doubt her cure? Would she have hid from Jesus and his apostles as the Gospel spread out through the world? Would she have felt an inner guilt that even though she was healed that she obtained it inappropriately? Maybe she would have become scrupulous of doing penance or self-loathing for having “cheated” to obtain her cure. Jesus’ question and calling her out to come forward might cause her a moment of temporary embarrassment but do you see how it frees her from doubt, guilt and shame. Notice Jesus’ words to her, “go in peace”. Jesus healing of the woman is a powerful call to confession through God’s ministers the Priest. Repentance of sins by “going straight to Jesus” is prayer is admirable and should be done by everyone as a necessary first step for the forgiveness of any and every sin. However, the human, physical, tactical interaction with God is necessary so that one can truly “go in peace”.
Finally, just a quick note about the healing of Jairus’ daughter. He was the synagogue official whose home Jesus was on the way to when he stopped to heal the woman with the hemorrhage. The young girl dies before Jesus can arrive. Jesus then raises her from the dead. We are given a great little but important detail. We are told, “and [He] told them to give her something to eat.” This is similar to after the resurrection, when Jesus appears to the Apostles and asks them if they have any food to eat. Jesus is showing that the girl and later himself are not ghosts, or visions or undead zombies. The resurrected are truly alive again, fully human.