Do you remember the story of the woman from Luke 8:40-48?
Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus' feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. As he 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 him and touched the fringe of his clothes, 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." But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me." When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."
This woman’s bleeding disorder made her unclean according to Jewish law (Lev. 15:19). No one could touch her and she could be punished for making another person unclean by touching him or her. She was not allowed to go to the synagogue to worship and she was virtually an outcast from society. She might as well have had leprosy. She was after all, a woman and during this time in history and in this culture she was considered to be of less value than a dog.
I think I like the wording of the King James Version even better. It refers to the hemorrhage as an “issue” of blood. An issue…and who among us doesn’t have one “issue” or another? Is it that very issue that keeps you from coming to faith at all? Is it that issue that prevents you from being “healed” from your infirmity and falling at the feet of Christ in reverent gratitude?
This woman put aside her fear of the consequences and came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak, some versions say the hem of his garment. How blatant was that? How bold was that? When Jesus turned to confront her, she fell to the ground, trembling at his feet, and declared to God and everyone within hearing why she had touched Jesus and that she had been healed.
In my mind’s eye, I see Jesus bending down, taking the woman by the arm, smiling at her and saying, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” This woman could now be accepted back into her community, her place of worship and her family unit. She was restored. If, like this woman Jesus healed, we leave behind our pride and fear and come boldly before God, we can be healed. Perhaps this healing is different from that of being cured. Maybe it is that kind of being healed from those infirmities that separate us from God and the community of faith.
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
- Hebrews 4:16 (NRSV)
There is something about the community of faith that sets them apart from regular church people… Do you know the difference? Do you? Church people are good people, hardworking people, often they are the backbone of their community, respectable and faithful. But the community of faith – they are the Easter people. They have finally discovered what the Christian faith is all about.
Pope John Paul II said, “Do not abandon your selves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” So sing it! Sing it loud and sing it strong! Hallelujah!
In some countries women are still ostracized from their communities for physical maladies. One such place is Ethopia. A Walk to Beautiful is a powerful story of healing and hope for women in Ethiopia devastated by childbirth injuries. A difficult journey that begins in loneliness and shame for thousands of Ethiopian women ends in a productive new life and hope for the future in this award-winning film. It originally aired on September 21, 2011 on PBS but you can see it in its entirety here: http://video.pbs.org/video/980049841
Oh my friends and sisters! We may have difference of opinion and belief, but we are women - we are sisters of the heart. If there is ever to be peace upon this earth, if there is ever to be healing from social injustice then it begins with us. Even so... Amen!
Wishing you everyday grace,