JANUARY 2, 2014 - TUESDAY OF THE 4th WEEK

2 Samuel, 18: 9-30; Mark 5:21-43

"WHO TOUCHED ME?", Jesus asked when, pressed by the crowed that surrounded him, he felt power go out from him.   There is a particularly striking feature to this incident when the woman suffering, probably from the disorder known in modern medicine as fibroidosis, was the beneficiary of this healing power.  At a first reading of the text as written by the Evangelist, this dramatic healing can seem to be more like magic than like our Lord's other miraculous cures.  It is certainly unique in that the miracle takes place without any conscious participation of Jesus himself.  He realizes that some extraordinary event that involved him has occurred but clearly does not know exactly who occasioned it and profited from it.  The woman herself comes forward and acknowledges her initiative in approaching him. Interestingly, although Matthew is careful to state that the sufferer did not presume bodily contact with the person of Jesus but out of respect dares only to touch the hem of his robe.  Our Lord, however, expresses concern that someone has touched him, and says just that: "who touched me?"   As the apostles make evident, many in the crowd had come into contact with him as he walked in their midst so that they, not understanding the hidden basis of his concern, protest that many unknown persons jostled him.  Feeling some guilt at causing the Lord's displeasure, the woman, "in fear and trembling", as the evangelist observes, acknowledges her act.  Rather than blame her for her boldness, however, the healer, recognizing that she was inspired by a confident faith in him as having a divine power, speaks reassuringly to her, and commends her faith.

What is the message for us today as we encounter this unique instance where the Lord responds unconsciously to an individual?   His power is engaged through some affinity created within her by the keen empathy she experiences with his disposition she is able to recognize in him and which inspires her to a confident trust.  Her faith sets up a relationship that is strong enough to evoke a healing response even without his deliberate decision to perform this act of mercy.  Once our Lord speaks with her and recognizes that it is her faith in his person as standing in a unique relation to God the Father, he ratifies this healing with his freely given approval of her bold act.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger