There’s a story told of a young Jewish girl who was going off to a new city for university. She was very conscientious about her faith. She went to her Rabbi and asked him, ‘how do I find a good Rabbi to guide me? The Rabbi answered,’ ask him if he can explain suffering. If he begins to explain suffering, look for another Rabbi.”
The Rabbi was right. Who can explain why bad things happen to good people? We are good people and for all of that we are devastated by the death of one we love, our ordinary living is upset by illness, our security is threatened by the loss of a job, a marriage breaks up, a son or daughter gets into drugs or suffers depression.
It’s normal we ask ‘why’, why me, why this, why now? It might be better if we asked ‘what’. What am I going to do with this, how am I going to handle this, deal with this? Will I let this hurt, this pain, this disappointment, shatter my life, will I let it crush me, make me bitter? Or will I embrace it – as Christ embraced His cross? Illness and suffering are part and parcel of life. As one poet wrote, ‘we are born in another’s pain and perish in our own.’ We are the followers of a crucified Christ, a Christ who offered His life out of love for us, a Christ Who said, ‘ if any would come after me let them take up their cross and follow me.’
The gospel tells us this suffering woman heard about Jesus. What did she hear? Did she hear about how Jesus challenged the religious authorities about their hypocrisy and their lack of concern for the ordinary people? Did she hear of the people he cured of leprosy or blindness? Did she hear that he made cripples walk and blind people see? We hear she spent a fortune on different cures and treatments and they only made her condition worse. Jesus told her her faith made her well but there must have been a bit of desperation there too as she worked her way through the crowd wishing only to touch his clothes. Maybe she said to herself, ’I’ll try anything.’’
I was reading up on this gospel and found that at the time of Jesus there were physicians and there were healers. Folk healers in those days were much more commonly available to the peasants. They were willing to use their hands to touch people and talk with them, listen to them, they let people unburden themselves. In the gospels people definitely identified Jesus as a folk healer, specifically a spirit filled prophet who could still storms, and restore people to their rightful and proper place in community.
Jesus definitely healed all who wanted to be healed. Healing is the restoration of meaning to people’s lives no matter what their physical condition might be. Curing is very rare, but healing takes place all the time because sooner or later we regain meaning in life and resume our rightful place within our family, our society and our church.
This is certainly what Jesus accomplished for the hemorrhaging woman. Her condition rendered her ritually unclean and not only prevented her from entering the Temple but also required that she remove herself from the community, the equivalent of social death in her world. She was treated like a leper. Healing her Jesus restored her to her rightful place in society, he restored her to her family and friends and he restored her to her family of faith and the Temple.
Could we find within ourselves, surrounded as we are with a crowd that does not share our faith, a busy crowd searching for the good life, could we find the courage to reach out and touch his garment and let power come out from him and restore us to the reality of our Christian faith namely we follow a crucified Christ who challenges us to take up the cross in whatever form it comes to us and let Christ walk with us giving us the willingness to accept our present reality, whatever is may be. It is what it is, this is what I live with – and in tranquility, trust in the presence and care of God – and say as Christ said – not my will but your will be done – for in God’s will is our peace.