The two stories together tell us so much about who Jesus is; and when we take these stories together with our lesson from the Wisdom of Solomon and our psalm, we see once again that Jesus does the things that God does. Here, we see that Jesus not only can restore health, but can also restore life.
A long time ago, when I first started attending the Episcopal church, I went on a women’s retreat. One of the exercises was to meditate and write about the woman whose story we were given. I was given the story of this woman, and ever since I have found much strength and comfort in her story.
Something that is difficult for us to remember, is that while she might have still been technically alive, she was as good as dead to those around her. Because she was bleeding all the time, she was considered unclean by temple standards, which meant that anyone who touched HER was then also unclean. So, she couldn’t work, she couldn’t attend temple, she couldn’t be near her family, she was at the mercy of those around her for her very livelihood, especially since she had spent whatever she had on cures that didn’t work. And then of course, there are the physical difficulties she was suffering that I imagine were painful and weakened her so that she felt as good as dead. Add to that that she was a woman, and she might as well have been dead because she was invisible as far as society was concerned. One of the truly beautiful things about her story is that she has nothing left to lose. She hears about Jesus, and she knows that he can heal her. And, not only can he heal her, but all she has to do is touch his clothes; she doesn’t even have to ask him. So she gathers her courage and she goes for it. She touches his clothing, probably thinking he wouldn’t notice. Instantly, she knows she is healed. What she didn’t count on, was that Jesus noticed too, not because he felt her touch but because he felt the power leave him. She must have been terrified. A woman touching a man without his permission was not a good thing, and she needed to do the purification rituals in order to be clean, and she made HIM unclean… and she confesses; and he sees her; and he speaks so kindly to her, letting her know she has great faith and that she is healed… but they both know she is more than physically healed, she is alive again; she is restored to right relationship with her community, her family, her temple, and with God. She who was invisible has been seen; she who was as good as dead is now alive… She risked whatever dignity and sense of self she had left and went after the life she knew Jesus could give her. It’s a truly amazing story…
And, just in case we miss the subtle message that this daughter has been brought back to life, we have the story of Jairus’s daughter who is literally brought back to life. This young girl whose father also believes that Jesus can heal, dies before Jesus can come. Jesus pierces the grief of the father and mother, ignores the laughter of those who are gathered, and goes to the girl. He takes her by the hand, and literally, lifts her up out of death into life. As our lesson from the Wisdom of Solomon says, God did not make death and does not delight in the death of the living… in our psalm it is God who turns our wailing into dancing… can you imagine the joy of these parents as they realize that their beloved daughter is no longer dead? I would be dancing.
I love these two stories, and I love them together because they compliment each other and complete each other’s message. Jesus, the Son of the the living God is with us in our present moment and enters into the darkness of the traumas that we face in our lives; he sees us and he offers us healing in body, mind, and spirit; and it’s ours for the taking, not matter who we are. One of the lessons that the older woman in today’s gospel teaches us is to not be afraid. Jesus is here for her and for us and we can reach out to him and ask to be made whole; his healing of her is not just about her physical healing, but about her being made whole and being restored.
The story of Jairus’s daughter reminds us that Jesus has been to the darkest places and will follow us even to our death to find us and lift us up into right relationship with God. Even death cannot separate us from the love and care of Jesus, who was and is God made human. One of the many things that these stories tell me is that our lives are important to God, and that our faith in God isn’t just about our death. God does not desire our death and has released us from everlasting death; but the life of a believer, of a disciple is also about our lives here and now. Who we are matters to Jesus; the things in our lives that need to be healed and restored matter to Jesus. Perhaps we all need to take our example from this amazing woman and reach out to him. When she touched him, everything about her life changed; everything. If we believe, when we touch him in the Eucharist, everything about our life changes too. May we find Jesus in our lives today and every day. May we be brave enough to touch him and believe that we can be healed, that our lives can be changed and our relationship to God can be restored. Today, we will touch him… may be go in peace and be healed.