There's this story of a father whose five children are young adults. On his birthday, this dad bought an answering machine and recorded the following message: "If you require financial assistance, press #1. If you are in emotional turmoil over a recent breakup with a romantic partner and require a sympathetic ear, press #2. If you are being treated unfairly at work or school and wish to vent your anger on your parents, press #3. If your car or appliance needs immediate repair or assistance, press #4. If you are simply phoning to inquire about our well-being or to spend a few moments in pleasant conversation, please check the phone number you actually intended to dial." This father of five, I'm sure, loves his children, but apparently feels somewhat frustrated with them as well. It's a familiar story!
In today's 1st reading taken from the Book of Wisdom, the author writes: "God has not made life easy for us. I've seen it all, and it's nothing but smoke : smoke and spitting into the wind. Life's a corkscrew that can't be straightened, a minus that wont add up." Yes, life often beats up on us in one way or another. Yet how we react to "getting beat up" determines both our character and the strength of our faith.
Consider the woman in today's Gospel. She is suffering from an unstoppable flow of blood, a near-constant hemorrhaging. This has been going on for 12 long years. She has seen many doctors, all of whom took her money but none of whom helped her in the least. Worst of all, she is declared ritually unclean by her religious leaders. This means she can no longer go out in public. No one is allowed to hug her or even touch her : not even her husband and children! I'm sure she felt she was "spitting into the wind," because no matter what she did, no one helped her.
Everyone of us has experienced some loss, some hemorrhaging in our lives, whether physical, spiritual or emotional. Perhaps this woman in today's Gospel can be our model and mentor. When she found out that Jesus the Healer was in town, she set aside her reservations and went to meet him. She covered her face so no one could identify her, for she understood the risk of being discovered and punished by the authorities. She pushed her way to the front of the crowd where Jesus was, saying to herself, "If I but touch his garment, I can be well." And so she did, and so she was healed! What the doctors could not do for her, Jesus did. Afterward, Jesus declared: "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you are healed and whole. Live well. Live blessed!"
"A risk of faith," Jesus calls it. Can we muster a similar risk of faith? Whether we like to admit it or not, we've spoken words like Book of Wisdom writer: "Life's a corkscrew that can't be straightened, a minus that wont add up." Perhaps we've let our fears kill our hopes, shrink our expectations and blind us to life's tremendous possibilities. But guess what! Jesus is in town : ! right here and now in this community, at our Table and in our hearts! Can we too say in good faith, "If I but touch Jesus, I can be well!" What a shame it would be to turn our backs on Jesus. What a tragedy it would be to miss all the wonderful things Jesus still has in mind for us! May we approach him and hear his comforting words: "Daughter/Son, you took a risk of faith, and now you are healed and whole. Live well, Live blessed!" You, and you alone, can make it so!