January 31, 2018
Dear fellow pilgrims,
Today, in our gospel reading, we have a story of two back-to-back miracles. A father moves Jesus to come to the bedside of his dying daughter, and on the way to this house, He heals a woman who reaches out to Him in a crowd.
It struck me that He calls the first woman, “daughter,” and then goes to the house of the young girl, the daughter of a synagogue official. But what does it mean to each of them, being a daughter? How are these miracles connected? Allow me to muse a bit…
The first woman was in a desperate situation. She had been hemorrhaging for many years, experiencing brutal pain with seemingly no end and no respite. She was probably an outcast from her family after being so sick for so long. She must have heard about this Jesus, His ability to heal, and she pushed her way through the crowd to get near enough to touch even the hem of His robe. And even as so many others were touching Jesus, trying to get a piece of Him, none had elicited healing like this woman. She came to Jesus so eager and full of faith in His ability and willingness to heal her that HER touch of His robe led to a moment of healing that she palpably “felt in her body,” and left her in “fear and trembling” when she realized what had happened. There is this intimate moment, a startlingly intimate moment, where Jesus became aware that “power had gone out of Him,” and she also “felt healing in her body.” What a movement!
But…people can’t steal miracles, right? That’s what I always thought about this, growing up. That this was some weird miracle where Jesus was like “oops” and this lady got what she wanted. It seemed awkward, because this woman seemed like she, too, was being grabby with Jesus, being demanding and annoying. But her thirst for healing was not what inspired this miracle… her faith that the mere proximity to Christ would heal her became the magnet that Jesus could not deny.
And this physical healing is probably all she thought she wanted. But Jesus turned to her, acknowledged her in front of the crowd. He didn’t just let her receive physical healing and walk away anonymously. He called her by a name she probably had not heard in quite some time: “daughter.” She may have needed this healing as much as her physical healing. She needed healing of her identity, her place as a unique, created woman by a heavenly Father, even if her own family had left her because of her sickness. Jesus saw her faith in his healing power, but He was sowing seeds of faith in His love and affection for her. Maybe, in the grand scheme of salvation, Jesus knew this was the only way He could get to this woman’s heart, by healing her, and healing her heart was more important. Giving her a new name, resurrecting an old name that was once dead to her, was what He wanted to give.
I think the beautiful connection between the healing of these two daughters is that the first woman advocated for herself whereas the little girl had her father as an advocate. The woman had faith, and she moved towards the Lord with this faith, and she was healed. She needed the additional heart-healing of being called "daughter" by the person who knows most intimately what God intends for His children. He finds this woman on His way to heal another daughter, except her father had advocated for her. It is a picture of salvation within salvation: Jesus is moved with pity by a father for his child, and within this journey, finds another child, another daughter, in need of healing. Jesus, Himself, is the greatest manifestation of the Father's heart, moved by love to save all His children from death.
Good Jesus, may we hear what You call us.
May we know ourselves only by your Voice.