13th Sunday in Ordinary Time reflection by Patrick Sinozich
A woman experiences 12 years of hemorrhages, 12 years of doctors who cannot heal her, and 12 years of the great expense of seeking a cure that leaves her penniless.
And then there is a young girl, twelve years old, a girl who is dying.
Two daughters of Israel, both in dire need of healing.
The woman whose bleeding will not stop has no name, is unaccompanied, and who lives in poverty.
The girl who is dying is the daughter of a prominent synagogue official named Jairus.
The no-name woman approaches Jesus from behind. Jairus, begging for his daughter to be healed, approaches Jesus from the front. The poor woman expects nothing; Jairus, because of his status, expects his request to be granted.
And still they are unified in what they seek and the faith in which they ask.
Jesus, at Jairus’ request, heads toward the man’s home and his dying daughter, hemmed in by crowds, but ready to heal and minister. The unnamed woman, makes her way, hands outstretched, just to brush Jesus’ garment and be healed.
Which of the two is worthy of healing? Who comes first? Whose need surpasses the other?
We might be tempted to question the unnamed woman and her indirect approach, cast doubt on her illness and needs. Surely she should wait. The child is dying, what’s one more day of her illness?
But for Jesus, the binary is rejected for inclusivity. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. The action of the Gospel continues as the woman, propelled by faith and more than a decade of affliction, reaches out with purpose, in faith, and touches Jesus’ garment. Instantaneously, the woman knows herself to be healed. And at the same time, Jesus becomes immediately aware that power has gone out from him, the power to heal. This woman, rejected by the community for her ‘impurity’ is restored to that community both physically and spiritually.
Yet, in the delay of healing this woman, the life has gone out of the body of Jairus’ daughter. She is dead, but Jesus tells Jairus to have faith, as the unnamed woman had faith, and they make their way to a house that is consumed by grief.
Despite the ridicule and sadness of the neighborhood ‘mourners’, Jesus restores the girl to life. He tenderly calls her to arise, walk and eat. She is restored to her family.
We are called to do what Jesus did not do in the scripture, to look back and see. Who, like the woman with the hemorrhage, is reaching out to us from behind? Who is without, is desperate, is wounded and needs healing?
And on the other side, who are we? Do we have a place, a name, a home? Even so, we are still surrounded by those without names, without homes, hemorrhaging women, men and children in our streets and at our borders. Women and men reaching out just to have a chance at life, to escape their suffering. Out of our abundance, the gospel morally obliges us supply their needs.
We are called to serve as Jesus did. Once he was made aware of the need he was willing to be inconvenienced, to put existing plans on hold and be attentive to the needs of another. As the Church, it is our duty to shelter the lowly, the outcast the poor and the immigrant. You and I, as the body of Christ, cannot be blind to their plight. We cannot be blind to the nameless suffering of our brothers and sisters, because it is the nameless suffering of God in our midst.
May we see, with the eyes of God, past race, class, orientation, gender, country of origin, political or religious affiliation, or any other detail that falsely divides us from the human person standing to our left and right. Let us, together as the body of Christ, hear his call, awake, arise, and immediately walk toward those hungering and thirsting for justice to do what we can in their aid.