From a Creighton Student's Perspective
February 5th, 2008
Senior, Theology Major, Justice and Peace Studies Minor
In these brief weeks of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, we’ve been with Jesus during his period of ministry. Today’s Gospel is really two stories, one interrupted by the other, but both bringing forth similar messages. Both stories are about healing. They are about how Jesus heals, but also, and perhaps more importantly, how we take an active role in healing each other and ourselves.
The hemorrhaging woman is disdained and rejected by her community. She is seen as an unclean threat to public health. Despite this, she demonstrates resolve in the face of her isolation. For the twelve years prior to her encounter with Jesus, she actively searched for a remedy to her bleeding. Despite her continued illness, she does not give up. She knows what her needs are and she searches for a way for them to be addressed. When she sees the opportunity to take part in Jesus’ healing power, she, very literally, reaches out and grabs it. Notice what Jesus says to her: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” He does not say, “I have saved you.” It is the woman’s faith put into action that saves her.
What strikes me most about this story is the woman’s steadfast commitment to her truth. She must have, at a deep level, understood herself as loveable and possessing dignity. How else could she have remained committed to being healed when everyone else rejected her and told her to keep her problems hidden away? She embraces her humanity rather than hiding her true self away in shame.
The second story from the Gospel shares similar story lines. A father goes out on his sick daughter’s behalf to find Jesus amongst the crowds of people hoping to visit with him. He, a synagogue official, and thus a person of status and privilege, begs Jesus to come to his home to save his daughter’s life. He convinces Jesus to come back with him, but as they begin to make their way to the family’s home, they learn that the daughter has died. But, like the woman in the other story, who refuses to give up on her goal of being healed, Jesus continues on with them to the home, where he sees that the daughter is only sleeping. He instructs her to rise, which she does.
The father’s willingness to put himself out on the line for his daughter could have a variety of motives. But at the surface, the story shows someone of privilege defending someone whose presence went ignored by the rest of society. The father’s actions are a reminder to us of how we can be a voice to empower those whose lives are spent at the margins, their suffering, illness, and alienation ignored by most. In doing so, we heal our communities (from immediate, family communities to the global community), thus living a tiny bit closer to the realization of the Kingdom.
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