Chi Rho Reflection for the Week of November 24, 2013
- Chi Rho Reflection for the Week of November 24, 2013
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As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press,
here is a selection from our book of daily devotions,
"Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the
Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.
Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's
meditation. We hope you will be blessed. Thank you
for forwarding this to your friends.
A desperately ill woman
"Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, 'If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.'"
The desperate father and Jesus pushed through the crowd towards his home when Jesus suddenly stopped and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" He had immediately felt the touch of yet another desperate person reaching for help. Healing power had poured out of his body. He refused to leave until the newly healed person publicly identified herself. With fear and trembling, a woman stepped forward and began telling her story of twelve years of suffering and loneliness.
To most fully appreciate her circumstances, we need to understand her cultural background. First century Israel was much different from twenty-first century North America. This woman acted in an extremely unconventional manner. That a Jewish woman, without a male protector, should dare to touch a strange man without his consent was an extraordinary event. Either she was desperate or had great faith.
Her situation is relevant for us. Her story is our story. She once had some financial means, which she spent in futile efforts towards healing. The care she experienced under many physicians resulted in much suffering. They actually made her condition worse. Anyone who has been ill can sympathize with her situation. There, but for the grace of God, are we.
In her first century Jewish context (Leviticus 15:25-30), her religion classified her condition as unpure. These ancient and revered religious laws prevented her from participating in social, religious, and community activities. People avoided her for fear of infection. They could not sit on her chairs or even touch her, or they too, would have to be isolated from others until prescribed cleanliness rituals were completed over a period of time. Her illness placed her outside the religious and social human community.
How lonely that must have been. Can you imagine going twelve years without tender, meaningful, and loving touch? What would it be like to go that long without a hug? Through her illness, she probably felt fear, shame, self-loathing, and social ostracism.
There are many like this woman who are shunned. Some are shunned because of illness, while others are shunned because of sexual orientation, race, religion, and many other reasons. Diseases and perceived differences might have different names, but the resulting loneliness and isolation is universal.
We need meaningful and tender touch in order to thrive. We need meaningful community and companionship. Like this unnamed woman, we might also feel fear, shame, self-loathing, and social ostracism because of well-intentioned religious rules.
Where are we in this story? What do we need from Jesus today?
God, like this anonymous woman, we need to reach out and touch Jesus to heal and thrive. Show us where oppressive religious rules cause damaging self-loathing and ostracism. Bring us into meaningful community, we pray. Amen.
Grace and peace,
Chi Rho Press
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