October 1, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today completes the story of the hemorrhagic woman in Mark 5:30-34.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
She approached in fear. Why? She had done something wrong; she had violated the purity laws. Now, she expected to be punished. She fell down and confessed everything to Jesus. She probably believed that her hemorrhagic disease was already punishment from God for who knows what. That was the common belief of the day — that God punished people for their sins. She likely trembled at wondering how much more punishment would be inflicted upon her even though she already knew she had been healed. Would Jesus take it back, make her sick again?
Of course, we know that Jesus would not have responded that way. He recognized and affirmed her faith; he assured her that she was forgiven and healed; he bestowed upon her the peace that only love can convey. So, why do I such a hard time putting myself in that story today? Why do I approach Jesus or the confessional with fear and trembling? Why do I expect judgment and punishment even though I have experienced the peace of Christ other times I have confessed my sins? It makes no sense to me!
I realized after writing yesterday’s reflection that in praying, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you under my roof,” that I am not professing my unworthiness, I am confessing that I don’t feel worthy. It’s my own judgment, not Jesus’ judgment of me. “But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Jesus here says the word, “Your faith has healed you.” (Other translations use “heal” for “save” in this verse.) All I have to do is believe that Jesus is the living word, the love, of God enfleshed and that his love is unconditional, free of judgment and punishment. With that belief comes healing of all my failings and suffering and with it the peace that comes from acceptance of myself and acceptance of God’s love for me. That’s the healing peace of Christ. Why should I be afraid of approaching him ever again?