Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. - Hebrews 12
This gospel offers us a terrific reflection today. It is a story within a story and therefore there's a lot going on. And here, the drama is life and death. It is fun to keep our eyes on so many characters at once, especially the doubting disciples who always represent our weak faith.
Jesus encounters a Jewish official who pleads for him to come and "lay your hands on her" because his daughter is close to death. Of course, Jesus heads that way immediately. But, life is never simple. There's a woman there who must have overheard this talk of healing and her heart skipped a beat. She's had heavy menstrual bleeding for twelve years. It has meant that she has been "unclean" for all that time and every chair she sits on and everyone who has contact with her as well are unclean. It has ruined her life and her spirits. What if Jesus could help her. Does she slow down his getting to the help of the child? Or does she quickly take the chance to get relief? What an agonizing moment.
The woman decides to take the risk and only reach out and touch his cloak as he whisked by. The experience of her healing fills her immediately. And, Jesus feels it too. He felt her needy-trusting touch in the crowd (the most unbelievable part to the disciples) and he felt his healing love go out to her.
Imagine the excitement of the Jewish father, seeing the power Jesus has, but just then, while Jesus is in mid-sentence telling the woman her faith saved her, news comes that the daughter had died. Now imagine the father's heart. But Jesus, "disregarding the message" tells the father, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." And they headed to the father's house.
Everyone was in full grief when they got there and Jesus tried to calm them all down. He took just the father and mother into the house, and only allowed Peter, James and John to stay (part of their special formation program, perhaps) and Jesus gave the twelve year old her life back and gave her back to her parents. And, he made sure they "gave her something to eat." What a story.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you and I could turn to Jesus this readily, in our needs? Maybe this gospel can remind us to keep our eyes fixed on him each day, even in the midst of our busy ways of avoiding our need for him. There are so many of us, around the world, with so many needs that his touch can really heal. At the very least, he can heal our doubts and fears, our dependencies on other stuff, our angers, our hurts, our judgments, our pride. Maybe, in this renewal of faith, we can just turn his direction and reach out for him. Maybe a loved one has gone to get him, in some way, to bring him to us, and it doesn't matter what obstacles lie in the way. Jesus wants to be with us.
And, for the many of us who have asked for healing and have not received what we have asked for, our faith invites us to place our trust in the power that will flow out of him to us, as we keep our trust in him.
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