REWARDING SUPERSTITION AND THEFT (Mark 5:21-43): 28 June 2009 (Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Dear Lord Jesus,
We have not one but two healing stories in today’s Gospel passage, but the first–involving the woman afflicted with a twelve-year hemorrhage–strikes me. She fights her way through that crowd around you, and perhaps having no other way of connecting with you, reaches out to touch…your clothes.
Two strange things happen here that make me learn something new about you. First, the woman’s belief verges on the superstitious! She tells herself, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” It reminds me of the local Catholic practice of touching statues (For all we know, the woman with the hemorrhage is the origin of this custom). Immediately she knows it; she feels that the bleeding has stopped.
But what do you do? You reward her superstition. Later, you even call it faith! It seems to me that no faith is too crude or too childish for you. So those of us who pride ourselves in our subtle, sophisticated spiritualities can get a message or two here.
Strange thing #2: You don’t will this particular healing. You don’t even really know until after it occurs. It just happens! In fact, in what I think is one of the funniest scenes in the Gospel, your disciples stare at you with disbelief and maybe some exasperation when you turn to them in that crowd and ask them that impossible question: “Who has touched my clothes?”
The woman has stolen her cure from you, but when she finally steps forward to admit her theft, not only do you let her keep her stolen grace, but you also even praise her for what to me resembles superstition more than faith.
Lord Jesus, you’re a strange God! But am I glad you are! Thank you for rewarding the woman’s superstition and theft. I love it that you judge neither our primitive faiths nor our desperate needs. Remind me not to keep away from you just because I myself belittle my own lack of faith or reject my needs. Gaze upon us with the your usual kindness and mercy as we continue to stumble after you through this valley of tears, often clutching blindly ahead of us in the hope of touching even just the hem of your clothes. AMEN.
Feel free to share a Quick Prayer.