The condition of the woman in Mark 5 is not just physically debilitating; it exempted her from marriage, from religious life, it drained her of all of her money, and made her a social outcast. This was a woman who was not just unclean some of the time, as many women of this time were considered to be, but all of the time. She was an outcast in every respect. Much like Jarius’ daughter, at first it seems that she is dying, but it soon becomes clear that in some sense, she is already dead.
Jarius, a leader in the synagogue, falls publicly at the feet of Jesus; but the woman approaches Jesus inconspicuously, her identity protected by the people around Jesus who is, as we know, in the midst of someone else’s story of healing. And yet, even though Jarius’ daughter is dying, Jesus knows the significance of the woman touching his cloak, and he stops in the midst of the rush to make her healing complete. For he does not just physically heal her but calls her out of the crowd in that very moment, bringing her into the open and back into life.
Who is this woman to us today? Do we rush by her, giving in to her social invisibility? Maybe we relate to her. Maybe we feel invisible, excluded, crying out in the words of the Psalm, “Has God forgotten to be merciful?” Today’s passage in Mark not only shows us God’s power and desire to heal us from everything that brings us death rather than life, but also reminds us of Jesus’ particular concern for those about whom others are unconcerned. He cuts through conventional notions of clean and unclean and the social notions of priority and hierarchy: he has time and care for each individual.
God of power and healing, help us to desire the fullness of life that you desire for us. God of the outcast and the excluded, show us whom we exclude, whom we ignore and pass by in our day to day lives. God of the Exodus, help us to find your path through the Red Sea, and to have the faith to walk like Aaron and Moses, being led by you even when your footprints are not seen. Amen.