In today’s reading we read Matthew’s account of the hemorrhaging woman’s encounter with Jesus. Every story of encounter with the divine is significant for us, but this woman’s story has a special place in my heart. First, she had suffered great physical pain for twelve long years with no help or hope. Secondly, she suffered emotionally and spiritually from being a social outcast as a result of the Jewish blood taboo; bleeding people were ritually unclean and could contaminate others. She was in a dark place and it seemed no one could help her.
Then she hears about Jesus. In Luke’s account, she comes up behind Jesus and “touched the fringe of his clothes” (NRSV). Immediately, she is healed by this touch of the divine. It is like she reached down and grabbed a thread of the fringe of Jesus’ robe and hung on for dear life. And it was enough. When she clung to the body of Christ by a thread, it was enough to heal her.
I have been in a dark place more than once in my life. There have been times when I have been hanging on by a thread, when I came to church and prayed and felt nothing. But I knew that church was where I needed to be because, as Peter said to Jesus, “To whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Luke 6:68). I hung on by a thread; and it was enough. In every case, I found health and healing through the community of faith – someone reached out to me and it was enough. Jesus touched me through them.
I look out on our Sunday gathering at mass and I see many people hanging on by a thread. These are tough times and it often seems dark. Jesus is calling each of us to reach out and offer a thread of hope to the people around us. Next time you are in church reach out to someone and let the touch of the divine work through you. Believe that the Holy Spirit is always successful. It may only be a thread, but it will be enough. Amen.