She desperately wanted to get better, this woman afflicted with the hemorrhages. She had already exhausted her financial resources on many doctors, and it had made no difference. She was still ill, but she did not succumb. She had heard about Jesus, and now he had arrived at her side of the lake, right in her neighbourhood. Although she was ritually unclean, she moved herself on into that crowd, for she had a certainty that if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ garment she would be cured. And it happened, not as she hoped, but as she knew it would.
This woman was persistent. She had a cause, a purpose, and she risked her money, and she risked ridicule and rejection in order to pursue her purpose. We meet her type in the Canaanite woman and in the woman who struggled with the unjust judge. Like these women, this sickly woman of today’s story was one who might have been considered among the powerless. However, like these other women, she took the God given power within her and used it to achieve her purpose.
One aspect of this story is the strong faith and tenacity shown by the woman. In that she is without a doubt a model from whom we can all learn. However, there is another issue that the community was dealing with then, an issue that has not been resolved in most Christian churches today, that of the equal role of women. That unnamed woman is all women in the Christian community. That unnamed woman is all women of any creed that assigns her a second class role. That unnamed woman is all people discriminated against for any reason. That woman is a challenge to all the systems, religious and social, that speak ‘equal’, but act ‘discrimination’.
She knew that touching Jesus would make a difference. Yet, she approached surreptitiously, not because she feared being shunned by Jesus, but because of the people surrounding him. The woman received more than physical healing that day. She received power that went out from Jesus. Then Jesus, knowing that his power had gone out to someone, sought her out. She came forward, trembling, and told her whole story. Then she received the gift of peace, a gift bestowed on the disciples in many of the resurrection scenes.
This woman stands as a model in the gospel for anyone who knows discrimination. She did not wait for laws to change, but by taking the resources of her God given gifts and her finance, she moved tirelessly forward towards the justice of equality. That justice she found in Jesus. That same justice anyone should expect to find in all those who consider themselves followers of Jesus. She calls each of us out of her own story to put our God given resources at the service of equality and justice, so that all may be able to receive that power of Jesus, go their way in peace and continue the effort on behalf of someone else.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP