IN those days, there came to Jesus a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for Jairus had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.
As Jesus went, the crowds pressed in on Him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years, and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of His garment, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround You and press in on You, and You ask, 'Who touched Me?'” But Jesus said, “Someone touched Me, for I perceived that power had gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before Jesus, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace.”
While He was still speaking, someone came from the Jairus' house to say, “Your daughter is dead, do not trouble the Teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, He replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter, John, and James, and the girl's father and mother. The people there were all weeping and wailing for her, but Jesus said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead, but sleeping.” And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But Jesus took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then Jesus directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded, but He ordered them to tell no one what had happened.
The woman with hemorrhages was obviously sick for a long time, yet what she did was shocking. And I am not speaking about her touching the Lord. The lone fact that she was in public was huge. She risked death by doing that. Ill people, especially anyone who was bleeding, like her hemorrhages, all such people were shunned and actually exiled to live outside the town limits.
In Palestine, towns were surrounded by walls, outside the walls the land was deserted and dangerous. Sick people, especially the ones that had the risk of contagion, were kicked out outside the city walls. And they were not allowed back, until somehow healed. Very often they could not be healed, so their life was the life of exile.
The woman with hemorrhages spent everything she had on doctors, and nothing worked. After twelve years, more than likely, she lived outside the city limits. Therefore, showing up in public, in the midst of a huge crowd that usually followed Christ, was a big risk for her. If anyone recognized her, she probably would have been stoned. What saved her was the crowd itself. Everyone was pressing in on Jesus, trying to get close to him. And so did she. This was her first act of faith.
In her resolve, she was able to reach Jesus and even touch Him. This was the second act of faith - believing that He was the One Who could heal her. Courageously showing up in the crowd, and faithfully approaching Christ is not as easy as we might think today.
Interestingly, Jesus felt that power had left Him. This was possible, I think, because of the great faith of the woman. As Peter said, "Lord, so many people press in on You, what do You mean that someone touched You?" Christ being God knew who touched Him, but He gave a chance for the woman to demonstrate her bravery. So she came trembling and fell down before Christ and declared before everyone why she touched the Lord. This was the third act of faith.
We can imagine the shock on people's faces as she was telling her story, how she had hemorrhages, and how everyone immediately took a few steps back from her. Touching someone who was bleeding was considered to, at least, ritualistically defile the person, or contaminate them with whatever the sick person had. In the first case, the person had to undergo a rite of cleansing, which would be at least one week long, with no contact with other people. In the second case, the person was exiled outside the city walls.
Three incredible acts of faith by the woman who used to have hemorrhages brought her before the Lord, Who healed her. Christ admitted as much, "Your faith made you well." Without this faith, she would not have been healed. How many people followed around after Christ? How many people were pressing in on Him? How many people were actually helped? We don't know for sure, but from the example of this woman, we can say that not everyone. Not everyone came to Jesus with faith, not everyone desired the right thing, or even the good thing.
She did. And she received it.
Next time we come around to this same reading, I will focus on Jairus and his daughter.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest