Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:43-48 NRSV)
Anyone who has experienced a life-threatening or life-limiting illness will inevitably be grateful to the doctors, nurses and health care professionals who have carefully and skilfully nurtured them back to health. Its just like having your life given back to you. You have new hope, and you are deeply thankful.
Now imagine yourself witnessing the scene in this story from Luke’s Gospel.
The poor woman is at her wits’ end. She has suffered for eighteen long years, has no-doubt visited every quack and charlatan in the business and the only thing she has been relieved of is her cash.
To add insult to injury, her culture would have considered her illness to render her “unclean”, as would be anyone whom she touched. She has lived with humiliation as well as illness.
In desperation she reaches out to touch the one she believes is her last hope of healing.
Her trust and her honesty before Jesus are rewarded, not with a lecture on religion and spiritual etiquette, but with healing. Jesus helps her when no-one else could or would. He gives her back her life to live.
For the miracles of healing in the Gospels are nothing less than that: stories of Jesus showing his compassion to the sick and vulnerable in a way which gives them back their lives.
What a gift: to have your life given back to you!
your healing power is amazing,
your compassion even more wonderful.
Help me to come to you
trusting in your life-giving compassion;
your divine love for me.