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Friday, August 26, 2016
Today’s Reading | Luke 8:40–55
Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. 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.” While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. (NRSV)
There are two different miracles in this story. In one, a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed. In the other, the young daughter of a prominent leader is raised from the dead. Despite the incredible nature of these healings, the most striking and revealing aspect of this scripture is the way that the two miracles are grouped together. It’s safe to assume that socially the hemorrhaging woman and the young girl would have had little to do with one another. The woman—by virtue of her “unclean” condition and presumably unmarried status—would have been a pariah left to fend for herself on the margins of society. The girl, meanwhile, belongs to a powerful family at the center of the community.
Remarkably, Jesus makes no distinction between these two people and pays no heed to the social parameters that define their differences. They are both children of God in need of his healing touch, and so he serves each of them. In general, human beings are not good at overlooking differences. We are prone to prejudice and tribalism. Even our best efforts to seek justice often pit one group against another. But Jesus—even as he meets people in their own individual need and experience—breaks down the barriers that would separate them and binds them together by his miraculous love. Thus, there is the potential for a third healing in this story: the healing of a broken, distorted community into one where all are worthy of life and community. In the midst of our ever-more divided society, Christ calls us to understand the ways that we are connected and to remember that our wellness and wholeness and healing are bound up together.
Loving God, help us see each other as Christ sees us. Help us seek healing and justice for one another, and help us understand that we are one community bound together by your love. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.
Written by Layton Williams, Former Pastoral Resident
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