A synagogue leader kneels before Jesus and says, “I know you can bring my daughter back to life.” It’s remarkable, isn’t it? That he can know any such thing? Maybe in ancient Palestine people had a different sense of what’s possible than we do, but still. The dead are dead. Always it has been this way.
A woman who has been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve long years believes that all she has to do to be healed is to touch the fringe of Jesus’ shawl. That’s remarkable, too: her belief that doing this one, small but completely forbidden thing can bring her not censure but healing. What led her to that conviction?
Both of those healed are female, people of no account in their society. Jesus calls the unknown woman “daughter”, just as the synagogue leader has called the dead child “daughter.” Both are daughters of Israel, and both are brought back to life and full inclusion in their community. But so what? In the grand scheme of things, what changes because two worthless women are made whole?
These days we all know countless worthy people who pray for healing for themselves and their loved ones to no avail. Children die and stay dead; long afflictions continue. And God knows that it is not that the people for whom healing does not happen have less faith or pray less well than those for whom, somehow, it does.
There is a deeper mystery at work here. In his healing as in his parables, Jesus demonstrates a topsy-turvy reality. All the people in the story believe in this upside down perspective. They part the veil of worldly perception and see what healing really is, where it really comes from, and that every single person is worthy of it.
For each of us there is always this: our own unique, vibrant, fearsome relationship with God. Like the synagogue leader, we are called out beyond that in which we have put our faith – our place in society, the mores by which we live, our beliefs and understandings – to the shattering realm of God’s power and God’s love. In our loneliest, most defeated and most drained unworthiness, if we stretch out our finger and touch the fringes of the Holy, we will find our place again. We will find the life-giving bond with God that belongs to no one else but us.
Sick or well, each of us fully belong to and are deeply loved by our Creator. What else matters, really? In the grand scheme of things what counts more than this?
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: Woman with the flow of blood, from the catacombs, public domain