By Sarah Christmyer
The most powerful mural I’ve ever seen is one that fills the front of a room in the church at Magdala, by the Sea of Galilee. Dead center is a light: a tiny glow that starts where a woman’s hand touches the hem of a man’s robe. The rest of the wall is filled with the sandalled feet of the crowd; fringed linen; a single wooden staff. It is an intimate picture. It draws you down to the baked earth and leaves you yearning with that woman, stretching out to touch the Lord. You see that flare of light and suddenly, you know: he is here, with you, as well. The room is aptly named The Chapel of Encounter.
God Doesn’t Do Aloof
“You are Known” is the title Colleen Mitchell gives her chapter on the hemorrhaging woman of Mark 5:24-34. In the same way that that small light grounds the mural at Magdala, this chapter grounds the book. “Who Does He Say You Are” has no meaning without the truth she points out here: that “God doesn’t ‘do’ aloof…. He is your Creator and maker, your healer and your Redeemer. He is your father, brother, and friend, the lover of your soul” (p. 51).
“God doesn’t ‘do’ aloof.” Even though we’d like a drive-by healer sometimes. At least I would! “Just fix me, Lord, and let me be” is how I’m tempted to pray. And I hide my hemorrhaging wounds and lurk in corners rather than look him in the eyes.
The woman in the mural has bent low to the ground. She’s down among the other people’s feet, unnoticed, stretching to the bottom of his robe. A flash of healing has gone out. She’ll be feeling it now, and so will he. And he will call for her. She’s healed in body but she is body and soul and Jesus cares for her soul as well. It’s not just the bleeding that has plagued her, but her invisibility. Her separation from community.
Who Touched Me?
“Who touched me?” Jesus asks. Now she’ll have to stand. She’ll have to come out from among the anonymous feet to look him face to face. She’ll have to come to a place where she can know and be known. And that is where the real healing will take place. When she encounters Jesus, she will be more than healed of her disease. She will no longer be alone. And she will “go in peace” of heart.
I wonder how many of us try to stop at touching the hem of Jesus’s garment? We go to mass, pay our dues…but never look him in the eyes. And all the while, he’s inviting us into a relationship that will bring us peace and make us whole.
Read Colleen’s chapter and learn: God wants you to know that he knows you. He knows you inside and out and he loves what he knows. But God doesn’t do drive-by healing, as Colleen points out. Allow him to draw you into his gaze. Be known and be healed and be at peace.
To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:
- Read Mark 5:24-34 a few times, putting yourself in the place of the woman. What do you hear?
- Can you describe a time when you approached Jesus with a need, only to be drawn into an unexpected encounter with him?
About the Author:
Sarah Christmyer is co-developer and founding editor of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study program. The author of numerous Bible studies and several guided journals for Bible reading, she speaks at conferences and retreats on topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith. She teaches at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. Follow her blog at www.ComeIntotheWord.com.