On many occasions, according to the Gospel accounts, the Lord worked miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons and forgiving sins, and after granting these graces he explained to the person in question: “Your faith has saved you”. This is what happened in the healing of the lepers (Lk 17:19), with the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:28), with the blind beggar (Mk 10:52), among others.
But what is particularly striking is the episode of the healing of the hemorrhoid. Once cured, Jesus says to her, as he did to the others: “Your faith has saved you”, but the difference with the rest of the miraculous healings is that here Jesus works the miracle without being aware of it: the faith of this woman “wrests”, we could say, the required grace from him.
This woman had suffered from her illness for twelve years and had tried everything to be healed, spending all her possessions (“she had spent all her possessions for nothing” Mk 5:26). In other words, she had no hope except in the power of Jesus Christ. This is why her faith is great and is able to draw the grace she seeks from the Lord, because in spite of her long wait and the skepticism she might have been after having tried everything and in spite of all her suffering (“she had suffered much with many physicians…getting worse” Mk 5:26), she puts her faith in Jesus Christ. “If I can touch even his garments, I shall be saved”, says St. Mark (5:28).
Matthew (9:20) says that what she touched was only “the fringe of his garment”. She knew that she needed no more to obtain God’s grace. And this is also why her faith is great, because in order to touch even the fringe of the robe, she had to disregard her own impurity and unworthiness. The book of Leviticus (15:19), in fact, prescribed that every woman who suffered from an issue of blood remained impure for seven days, until the issue had ceased. To be unclean meant that everything with which she came in contact was also unclean: people, furniture, clothes. And since she had been suffering from her disease for twelve years, we can imagine the repudiation she would have suffered, for not only could she not have contact with people, but people could not have contact with any object she touched. That is why the act of touching the border of the Lord’s mantle, demands great courage, for if someone discovered her, she would be accused of having left the Lord impure. This is probably why she sought to touch the mantle without being seen (“she approached from behind” Lk 8:44), not to make the Lord impure (for if he worked miracles with divine power, the divinity itself could not remain impure), but to avoid scandal. And for this reason, when the Lord demanded to know who had touched him, she “came forward in fear and trembling” (Mk 5:33).
And the effect is, as we said, the grace of God: “Someone touched me, for I felt a power go out from me,” says Jesus (Lk 8:46).
The Lord permits that sufferings afflict us, because they serve to bring us back to the one thing necessary. Difficulties make us place our hopes in God alone, and test our faith in his omnipotence, making it grow.
May this miracle of the Lord serve us to copy the formula of the hemorrhagic woman in our prayer: to draw near recognizing our total indigence, as she had lost her goods; without allowing our unworthiness to be an obstacle to imploring his mercy, as she drew near to the Lord in spite of her ritual impurity; and placing all our faith and hope in the contact we establish with God through prayer, even though it may seem to us that the Lord turns his back on us, seeking saving contact with him, even if only by touching the fringe of his cloak. This formula drew the grace she sought from Our Lord. Let us seek to reproduce it in order to obtain abundant heavenly graces.
P. Andrés Francisco Torres, IVE