Resuming the readings from Matthew’s Gospel we encounter Jesus working more miracles. Let’s keep in mind the ‘bridegroom’ theme from last Saturday’s reading. Jesus’ miracles are an important element of his work of bringing about a new covenant relationship between God and his people. This work involves also healing and restoration. The bride has become damaged and wounded through sin and the breakdown of intimacy with God. The restoration of the bride requires that the bride be made new and her wounds healed.
It is interesting to notice today that there are two miracle stories – one inside the other. While Jesus is on his way to raise up the dead daughter of the (Jewish?) official – is this the Jairus mentioned in the other Gospels? – a woman touches the hem of his garment. We are told that she has been subject to bleeding for twelve years. Her healing is instantaneous. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ Jesus encourages her, ‘your faith has healed you!’ (v. 22 NIV). We perhaps barely notice that Jesus calls her ‘daughter’. Something more significant is going on even than the wonderful healing she has experienced Through her union with Jesus, by touching in faith the hem of his garment, she has become part of the now-restored bride, part of the New Covenant.
It is worth mentioning at this point that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the picture chosen to illustrate the section which covers the Church’s liturgy and sacraments is one of ancient origins depicting this very incident. The clear message is that the effect of touching the hem of Jesus’ garment is the same as the effect of participating in the Church’s liturgy and touching, or being touched by, the sacraments. Through the sacraments and liturgy we are drawn into the New Covenant relationship with God in Christ. We are part of the ‘bride’. If, like the woman in today’s reading, we approach the liturgy and sacraments with faith, the wounds of our own sin will also be healed.
And, finally, the raising of the official’s daughter from the dead. Perhaps we can be permitted to see more deeply into this in the light of what has just been said about the woman Jesus called ‘daughter’. The children of the bride (the Church) and bridegroom will be raised from the dead by Jesus.
Genesis 28:10-22 • Psalm 90(91):1-4, 14-15