Mark 5: 21-43
Reading this passage, I am struck by the parallel stories told here. There is an older woman, who has been suffering for many years. And there is a young girl of 12, near the point of death. In both situations, Jesus’ healing is sought.
In the case of the young girl, her father comes to Jesus, and respectfully but with some boldness makes a request. “My little daughter is sick. Come and lay your hands on her so she may get well.” When Jesus gets to the house, the sick child is surrounded by friends and family, father and mother. The crowd is doing all it knows to do to console the family, weeping and wailing, sure that this loved child is gone. They are overcome with amazement when Jesus takes her by the hand, calls her back, and makes sure that she is fed.
The story of the older woman who has been suffering without relief for 12 years is a bit different. There are no friends and family accompanying her. Where are they? Is she a widow? Childless? Has her long illness driven away those who were her friends, her neighbors? She too seeks a healing touch, but she does not make a bold request. Rather, she approaches Jesus from behind, reasoning “If I touch even His garments I will be made well.” Jesus is not oblivious to her approach, and turns around, scanning the crowd, asking “Who touched Me?” And Jesus’ question emboldens the woman to step forward and with fear and trembling tell her story.
I think Jesus’ response is the part of this passage I like best. “Daughter,” He says, claiming a family for this lonely but faithful woman, the family of God. “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Who are the lonely, suffering, hidden ones in our time and place, and how might we, in Jesus’ name, claim them as family?
― Karen Mawyer