We’ve just heard a story of healing that occurred because an ailing woman took a huge leap, a step forward, in faith. In tomorrow’s Gospel you will hear a second healing miracle that concludes with Jesus insisting the on-lookers tell no one. But, it seems to be impossible to obey what some refer to as “a messianic secret.” Jesus seems to be telling us that each individual, each of us, must in the end, make our own act of affirmation that Jesus is our Savior.
Have you ever felt like the hemorrhagic woman – or known someone who did, or does? Feeling like the bucket of life has a hole in it? That it leaks faster than you (or the person you are thinking of) can fill it? No matter what you do, how hard you work, where you go, what you try, you just can’t fill it up. Work, play, friends, family, community and even prayer somehow leave you feeling empty, restless, and searching. You can’t seem to get enough in your bucket. The outflow is greater than the inflow. You are left drained – tired and weak, frustrated and hopeless, angry and resentful, sorrowful and grieving, fearful that you will never be as fulfilled as you figured you would be by the age you are. If you know what that is like, perhaps you know how hemorrhaging woman felt.
In the Gospel, we don’t know her name. We don’t know where she came from. She’s anonymous; just another face in the crowd. What we do know is that she is sick, desperate, and in need. She has been bleeding for 12 years. That’s 4,380 days. In all that time no one has been able to help her. She’s spent all she had – money and energy. She’s only gotten worse. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year it’s been the same.
This woman’s condition is more than physical. She’s losing more than blood. She’s losing her life, its warmth, vitality, and fruitfulness. That is more than a physical condition – it’s a spiritual matter.
At one level this is a story of this one woman. Looked at from another level it’s our human story. Her story is our story. It’s not only about women. It is as much about men. Drained of life, we go through the motions. We’re alive but not really living. Such people feel disconnected, isolated, and alone.
I suspect the bleeding women spent many of the last 4,380 days thinking, “As soon as.…” This particular day, however, something is different. Something in her has changed, shifted. She has heard about Jesus. Maybe she heard about his teaching, about him casting out demons, about him healing the sick, or about him calming the storm on the sea.
We don’t know what she had heard about Jesus but it was enough to make her believe in him. She was desperate. She would no longer wait on others to fix her life. Today she would risk the crowd’s ridicule. Today she would literally take matters into her own hands. In her heart she knows, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”
Instantly a connection is made and a relationship established. Life no longer leaked out of her but flowed into her. And, Jesus knew that power had flowed out of Him. “Who touched my clothes?” It may take professional help, or a spiritual director, or a close friend to help us through the maze, but Jesus does offer each of us “life without hemorrhaging.” We don’t have to live drained of life. We, too, can walk the path of peace fully alive if we but risk reaching beyond the circumstances of our lives. We don’t have to live “as soon as” lives.
We can begin by looking at the clothes Jesus wears. Sometime he drapes himself in silence, solitude, and prayer. Sometimes it’s mercy and forgiveness. Sometimes it’s thanksgiving and gratitude. Other times it’s compassion and generosity. Always it is self-giving love. The very attributes and characteristics of his life are the clothes he wears and the clothes we are to touch.
If you are feeling drained, or for when you may in the future, I’ve put a few copies on the back table of a tool that may help the user get in touch with the area of life that may be the cause. It can be used for self-examination, for self-direction or to discuss with a confidant. If you would like a copy of this tool, just let Cheryl Chadick know at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you one.
If you read the daily reflections in THIS DAY – on Thursday past you saw that the author refers to the Hemorrhaging Woman, the bleeding woman, as a First Century disciple. When you feel you are living a drained life, call upon this woman in the crowd to intercede for courage to reach out and touch the clothes of Christ. Connect to Him. Do whatever it takes to let Jesus transfuse you with his life, love, and power. Touch and be healed and go in peace.
Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB