Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
Matthew 9 : 20 – 22
It has often been speculated that the woman’s problems were related to menstrual bleeding. It is a sad truth that all through history women and girls have experienced stigma due to their periods. Even in the UK in 2020 people are made to feel embarrassed about a natural process and period poverty, the inability to buy basic sanitary supplies, affects a huge number of people. It’s why as a Church we give out free sanitary products to people who need them.
This woman’s condition would have made her ritually unclean in her society. People would have avoided touching her, worrying that if they did they would be ‘contaminated’. In fact by touching his cloak the woman was breaking all the rules, she was risking an angry rebuke for ‘contaminating’ Jesus with her uncleanliness.
But she doesn’t contaminate Jesus. Instead of her ‘uncleanliness’ spreading to Jesus, Jesus’s grace spread to her. This manifested in the healing of her condition, that not only cured her ailment, but would have allowed her to return to her community. As with many healings, Jesus doesn’t just heal a body, he heals a community.
Shame and stigma can often be as debilitating as a physical ailment. A healthy community is one that has been healed from its prejudices and is able to welcome all its members with open arms.
Prayer: Restoring God, I pray for healing for my body. I pray for healing for my mind. I pray for healing for people close to me. And I pray you will heal my whole community.
Action: Take a few minutes to learn more about period poverty and have a think about whether this is an issue you can contribute to.