Posted by: jevcat | March 16, 2012

The Hem of His Robe

One of the gospels for this week is the story, from Mark 5, of what in my childhood was called “The Woman with the Issue of Blood.”  More modern translations tend to use words like “flow,” but I always think of it as “issue,” because it really was an issue.  The Gospel tells us she had suffered for 12 years, by which point it had probably become the primary issue of her life.

I remember in my childhood my mother having problem with bleeding.  It only lasted a matter of a few months before the doctor ordered a minor surgical procedure and the problem was solved.  Young as I was, though, I remember how tired my mother was during that time, though, how literally drained.  Caring for me and my dad and grandfather was almost more than she could manage – and she didn’t have to walk distances and carry water drawn from a well, as the woman in our story did.  Perhaps the woman in the Gospel also had a family for whom she was trying to care.  In addition, she would  have had to deal with something my mother did not – the bleeding would have rendered her ritually unclean, with no hope of ever being fully back in the community until it stopped and she could bathe in the mikvah, the ritual bath.  Anyone who touched her would also become unclean, so few would have.

I identify with this woman with the issue of blood.  Don’t we all have issues that drain us, pulling at us, times when we feel so emptied of energy that we don’t know how we are putting one foot in front of the other?  Most other healing stories involve sick people (or those who love them) actively asking, begging –arguing even – for healing.  This woman only grasps at the hem of Jesus’ robe.  Perhaps it was all she had the strength to do.  There are days I feel like that.  But the hem – with Jesus attached – is always there, as is his response:  “Peace.  Go and be healed.”  It is enough.


  1. Too few of us see the ministry of Jesus in terms of healing. And not merely re physical ailments….

    • I don’t know that I thought of it that way, Carl, but I suspect you are right, particularly about the not-just-physical part.

  2. This is funny because Norm is going to the oblate meeting tomorrow and all I asked him to pray for was peace. That was before I read this.

    • Ellen, I was thinking of you when I was writing this one.

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