Shame and the Lord

In the Gospel Reading, Jairus wades fearlessly into the crowd around Jesus and interrupts whatever Jesus is doing. Jairus is an important person, an official of the synagogue; and his twelve-year old daughter is dangerously sick. Jairus believes that Jesus could heal his daughter, but only if he comes right away. And so Jairus urges Jesus to drop everything and come.

And Jesus does turn immediately to go with Jairus. But then Jairus’s interruption of Jesus is itself interrupted. Jesus stops dead and demands to know who touched him. 

Who touched you?, his disciples say in disbelief.  Everybody touched you! You are in the middle of a big crowd pressing all around you. 

But, as we know, there was someone who touched Jesus in a special way.  She was a woman who had had an issue of blood for twelve years, just as many years as Jairus had had a daughter.  Under Mosaic law, she was unclean all that time.  Anyone who touched her was unclean. In fact, anyone who touched anything she sat on or slept on was unclean. She had spent all her money on doctors, but they only made her worse. 

So she was poor, outcast, and scared of being noticed. Unlike Jairus, she didn’t dare interrupt Jesus to press her own concerns on him.  And now she had added this dreadful thing to all the others: she had made even Jesus unclean. She had touched him.  No wonder she was trembling when she had to face Jesus. Shame such as hers makes a person desperate to be invisible.  

In her great need, she had not been willing to put herself forward, as Jairus had done. She was willing to be shamed, no-account, unnoticed – as long as she could be healed. But Jesus was not willing to tolerate her own estimation of herself.  He made the official of the synagogue wait for her.   “Daughter,” Jesus says to her, “your faith has saved you. “

In that one word, ‘daughter’,  Jesus healed her shame as well as her blood-flow. He showed her and all the crowd around her that she was to him what Jairus’s daughter was to Jairus.

And so Jairus was not the only one who cared for his daughter on that day.