Grabbing Hold of God's Hem
The contemplation below is an excerpt from Transfigured.
But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
(Luke 8:42b-48 NKJV)
Today we read about an unnamed woman whose faith is so great that it manifests itself in tremendous bravery.
The Hebrew view of menstruation in Jesus’ day was encumbered with notions of spiritual uncleanliness, enforced isolation, and rituals for purification. Under normal circumstances, women bore the weight of cleanliness requirements just once a month for decades until menopause eventually halted the cycles. But the limits inflicted on this woman didn’t let up for twelve straight years.
Observing the Jewish customs meant she would have stayed away from men so she couldn’t accidentally touch them and therefore make them also ritually unclean. She was probably looked down upon by her society; disdained for her perpetual flow of blood.
Trans masculine people may feel a special resonance with her, knowing what it it’s like to just want the bleeding to stop; spending money and suffering under the processes of transitioning. But all gender-queer people can find a connection with this woman, who endured so much and yet pushed through to grab hold of Jesus. Her culture said she should have stayed away, should have remained hidden so she wouldn’t affront anyone’s sensibilities. It would have been more comfortable for the religious people around her if they didn’t have to recognize the hardship which following the Law inflicted on her; the deprivation of freedom, community, and respect. They would undoubtedly have preferred that she remain sequestered; out of sight, and out of mind.
But this brave, nameless soul broke through the shackles of law. She knew she was violating rules for being out on the street, and for touching countless people in the throngs surrounding Jesus. She knew that touching his cloak would be considered a defilement of a holy man.
A defilement, in fact, of God themself.
In response, Jesus turned to her, called her daughter, and celebrated the power of her faith. He glorified her action rather than condemning it, and he didn’t bother to perform the purification ritual which law dictated after their contact.
The woman entered the scene nameless, disdained, and excluded by society. She left it bearing the title “daughter,” healed, and knowing she was loved.
This is the power of Christ.
Jesus does not disdain you for the things religious experts say you shouldn’t do, be, or feel. Jesus doesn’t want you to stay away from him out of some idea that you would sully Christianity by your presence. Jesus wants you to break through the crowd and grab hold of any part of him you can reach.
And when you do, he will claim you as his beloved child.
I live my life knowing that God loves me. I know this because I completely put my fate in His hands, and for doing that I have seen the ultimate result of His unconditional love. In the end, it only matters what He thinks of me, because I know if He loves me then others will, too. This is God’s redemption for me.