Today’s reading: Mk 5:21-43
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?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me? ‘” And he looked around to see who had done it. 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. 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 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 felt an inner guilt that even though she was healed that she obtained it inappropriately? Would she have hidden from the Apostles after the resurrection as the Gospel spread out through the world? 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” in 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 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.
Tomorrow: Mk 61-29