We don’t know her name. She is an insignificant woman, lost in the midst of the crowd that follows Jesus. She doesn’t dare speak with him as Jairus the synagogue leader did to get Jesus to go with him to his house. She could never be that lucky.
No one knows that she is a woman marked by a secret sickness. The teachers of the Law have taught her to see herself as an «unclean» woman, as long as she has these flows of blood. Many years have passed, looking for a cure, but no one has been able to heal her. Where could she find the health that she needs in order to live with dignity?
Many people live among us with similar experiences. Humiliated by secret wounds that no one knows about, without energy to entrust their «sickness» to anyone, they look for help, peace and consolation without knowing where to find them. They feel guilty when most times they are just victims.
They are good people who feel themselves unworthy to come up and receive Christ in communion. They are pious Christians who have suffered needlessly because they were taught to see everything related to sexuality as dirty, low-life, and wicked. They are believers who at the end of their lives, don’t know how to break the chain of supposedly sacrilegious confessions and communions. Can they ever know peace?
According to the Gospel story, the sick woman «hears about Jesus» and figures that she’s in the presence of someone who can cast out the «impurity» of her body and of her whole life. Jesus doesn’t talk about worthy or unworthy. His message speaks of love. His person radiates healing power.
The woman seeks her own path to meet up with Jesus. She doesn’t feel herself able to face him: she will come close to him from behind. She’s ashamed to speak to him of her sickness: she will act silently. She can’t touch him physically: she’ll just touch his cloak. That won’t matter. That won’t matter at all. In order to feel clean, it’s enough to trust completely in Jesus.
He says the same. This woman doesn’t need to be ashamed before anyone. What she has done isn’t bad. It is an act of faith. Jesus has his way of curing secret wounds, and he says to those who seek him:
«My daughter, my son, your faith has restored you to health.
Go in peace and be free of your complaint.»
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf