This probably won’t happen every morning, but something I am trying as a Lenten discipline is to take a little time each morning and write a brief reflection on the gospel text from the daily lectionary cycle. Today’s reflection is based on the reading from Mark 5:21-43.
As I was reading this morning, a memory from my childhood leapt out to me.
The memory was of watching a cheesy show on television about miracles. In the particular episode I remember, the characters had apparently stumbled upon a piece of Christ’s garments. This small shred of fabric had miraculous properties: anyone who touched it was almost instantly healed of their diseases. The characters went around using the shred of cloth on near hopeless cases at a nearby hospital trying to save as many lives as they could before the garment’s magical powers were all used up.
In theory, I believe, that episode was inspired by this passage. A woman comes up and just by touching Jesus clothes she is healed of a disease that has plagued her for decades.
Only, there were many others in the crowd touching Jesus clothes that day. So many that when Jesus asked who touched him, his disciples laughed at the question.
Why do we not hear miraculous healing stories from each of them? Surely someone in the crowd had a cold that day or was suffering from a migraine or had a bad back in need of healing.
What made this women unique?
Jesus tells us the answer: its that she had faith. And that, really, it was her faith that healed her, not the act of touching Jesus’ clothes.
Because contrary to the writers and directors of the show I saw as a child, Jesus power to perform miracles was not some bit of fanciful magic. Jesus’ clothes did not have divine healing properties that were passed along to whoever touched them. It doesn’t work that way.
Faith is the key to this story.
It was faith that healed her, not magic.