An Empty, Faith-filled Hand

An Empty, Faith-filled Hand

No seas were ever so troubled by the ebb and flow of the tide, as the mind of this woman, pulled to and fro by the sway of her thoughts. After all the hopeless strivings of the physicians, after all her outlay on useless remedies, after all the usual but useless treatment, when skill and experience had so long failed, all her substance [income] was gone. This was not by chance, but divinely ordered, that she might be healed solely through faith and humility, whom human knowledge had failed through so many years.

At a little distance apart from him [Jesus] stood this woman, whom nature had filled with modesty, whom the law [of Moses] had declared unclean, saying of her: She shall be unclean and shall touch no holy thing. She fears to touch, lest she incur the anger of the religious leaders, or the condemnation of the law. For fear of being talked about, she dares not speak, lest she embarrass those about her, lest she offend their ears.

Through many years her body has been an arena of suffering. Every day, unceasing pain she can endure no more.

The Lord is passing by so quickly. The time is short to think what she must do, aware that healing is not given to the silent, nor to the one who hides her pain. In the midst of her conflicting thoughts, she sees a way, her sole way of salvation. She would secure her healing by stealth, take in silence what she dares not ask for, guarding her respect and modesty. She who feels unworthy in body, draws near in heart to the physicians.

In faith she touches God. With her hand she touches his garment, knowing that both healing and forgiveness may be bestowed on this stratagem, undertaken due to the demands of modesty, and not as she otherwise would have preferred. She knew the gain she sought by stealth would cause no loss to him from whom she took it…

In an instant, faith cures where human skill had failed through twelve years.

Peter Chrysologus (380-450)

Sermon 33.4 (On Mark 5:24-34)

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament II: Mark

Edited by Thomas C. Oden & Christopher A. Hall