13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
June 27, 2021
Ana Cloughly, OSB, Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery, Colorado Springs, CO
Reading from the book of Wisdom today we hear “God did not make death, nor does God rejoice in the destruction of the living. For God fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying.” This passage is reassuring. It helps to know that God’s intentions in creating everything is that it be “wholesome” and the underlying source of creation is justice.
When the lectionary was put together by the Church, there is usually a connection between the readings. So, in the light of God’s desire for all creation to be wholesome and just, we encounter an interesting narrative that places a story with in a story. First, Jesus meets the father of a very sick girl. As he goes off to see what he can do for the little girl, the crowds follow him, pressing in on him. Seeing this, a woman who was suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years takes the opportunity to just touch the very edge Jesus’ clothes.
Touching the edge of Jesus’ clothes made him ritually unclean. I imagine that this suffering woman thought it would be safe to touch Jesus because many people were touching him as well. But Jesus felt the touch. He could feel the healing power flow from him.
This story holds two points on which we may ponder. First, what was Jesus like in his own body that he could feel healing power flow through even his clothes? His divinity is one with the deepest desire of God, that all things may be wholesome. Second, when Jesus asked who touched him the woman came forward. Coming forward was dangerous. The fact that she was a woman gave Jesus the right to criticize her, touching him while bleeding could have gotten her killed. No wonder that the woman came forward to tell Jesus the truth with fear and trembling. Jesus’ response was unexpected. He simply said, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” Oh, how she must have rejoiced.
Jesus continues on his journey to do something about the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader, when he encounters Jairus’ servants who share the news that the child has died. Again, Jesus’ reaction is unexpected. He went to Jairus’ home, “then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of 12, arose immediately and walked around.”
In our times, there is much controversy as to who can touch Jesus and who cannot. Jesus left for us his body in the form of bread and wine, our feast of thanksgiving, the Eucharist. Jesus’ example in the gospel breaks down many barriers. He gives women dignity by offering compassion not condemnation at their touch. At his touch even girls are given life. The ability to approach God doesn’t depend on gender or ethnicity. It depends on faith, our own and the faith of those who love us. Pope Francis tells us that communion is “healing for the sick, not a reward for the healthy.” For (God) fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying.”
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Sister Ana Cloughly is the Director of the Contemplative Vision Ministry at Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs, CO. She facilitates courses in contemplative prayer practices and Christian mysticism, leads group retreats and is a Spiritual Director. She is a member of the planning committee for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Federation of St. Scholastica.