The National Catholic Review
Up until maybe ten years ago, it didn’t occur to me what kind of bleeding the woman with the hemorrhage, told of in Mark 5 and Luke 8, was actually experiencing. My unexamined mental image was of a woman with drops of blood oozing from random pores, who somehow did not bleed to death. Then I heard a homily that flooded me with realization: My stars, she’d been menstruating for twelve years! She’d been, according to Jewish law, unclean, unholy, and untouchable for all that time. No doctor had been able to cure her. At the risk of indelicacy (and men, you may stop reading at this point if you are squeamish), I must confess an affinity for the woman with the hemorrhage. The fluky indignity of perimenopause recently subjected me to twenty-five straight days of bleeding. While this is a far cry from twelve years, I felt a bit of the desperation of that Biblical woman: Oh, Lord, make it stop! It kept me apart from my husband, although not by law, and generally messy, cranky, and out-of-sorts. It was physically and spiritually draining, being the woman with the hemorrhage. I can easily imagine that the possibility of healing would lead the woman with the hemorrhage (and what a thing to be known for throughout all time) to brazen and desperate measures. She emerged in public and touched a stranger’s cloak, a stranger who said things like, "Do not be afraid." But when she was miraculously healed, he knew instantly, and called her forth from the crowd. She trembled with fear, but Jesus only said, in his perceptive, succinct way, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace." All we have to do is touch him. Just the hem of his cloak. Touch Jesus, and the forces of life and love will stop seeping out of us; we will be restored to full spiritual health and vigor. Touch Jesus, and we will be sent forth, faithful, well, and in peace. Why do we make it so hard? Valerie Schultz

Comments

Anonymous | 5/4/2008 - 2:25pm
OK, but you're at a CATHOLIC site, asking CATHOLICS. So you get the Catholic answer, which is pretty easy if you believe. If you want existentialism and relativism, is this the right forum? I don't think Valeri meant "everyting will be alright forever,"...did you want literalism or existentialism? Depending on your mood you might find both in the Gospel according to John. Reading and praying is better than whining, and I say that as a sometime-fellow-whiner, so I speak from experience.
Anonymous | 5/1/2008 - 4:08pm
Seems to me we touch him when we receive him in Holy Communion. And those things return because the brokenness of the world will continue until Christ returns. Those questions are EASY! :-)
Anonymous | 5/2/2008 - 12:13pm
Thea, those questions might seem easy for a Catholic. The world is much more than Catholics, though. Most of the people who have ever lived have not touched Jesus in Communion. "We" is way more than we Catholics. Valerie's experience suggests a once and for all phenomena ("all we have to do is touch him")and is difficult to reconcile with suffering in this world. Jesus can become a brand: I have a personal computer, I have personal transportation, I have a personal Savior. I don't think Jesus meant that to just touch him or just relate to him means that all is going to be well right now in this life.
Anonymous | 5/1/2008 - 9:17am
Well, Valerie, exactly how do we touch Jesus? And when we have, why do those ugly things always seem to return? Those forces that oppose life and love?