All of us have had to deal with long lines and crowds. It might be waiting in line for an amusement park to open, or registering for classes, or those crazy early morning Black Friday sales, or maybe general admission to a concert. Sometimes in these moments, we have to be a little ‘aggressive,’ a little ‘pushy.’ Not rude, not entitled. But we’ve waited long enough. It’s our turn at the front of the line.
Especially if it’s for our family. Anything to do with gifts, medical bills, safety, child care – over the years I’ve learned that no one else will speak up for my family unless I do.
In the same way, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be first in line for spiritual things. Both Jarius, the synagogue official, and the woman with the hemorrhage in today’s Gospel, are a little pushy. They need to get to the front of the line.
For them, it’s literally life or death. They don’t care about the crowds, the risks, the possibility of being rejected publically. They just want to be first in line, in that moment, to be healed.
When my daughter hurt her knee a while back, she came to us and told us that something wasn’t right. We took her to a doctor, set up an appointment for the MRI, did everything we could to take care of her needs. But if my daughter had never said anything – if she just kept to herself, content to let things be the way they were – no healing would have taken place. We couldn’t have helped her.
It’s the same with our relationship with God. We need to move to the front of the line in order to be healed. It might be physical healing, or accepting our physical limitations. Maybe it’s a money situation, a bad loan, and all the stress that goes along with that.
We can ask God to heal someone we know, someone we volunteered with, someone homeless, or an immigrant who feels very confused right now. That’s how healing begins. In prayer. Before Christ.
Ancient medicine didn’t have the scientific knowledge we have, but they knew about healing. One of the common words for illness in the first-century world was the Greek term astheneia, which meant a “lack of vital force.”
Healing was a transfer of vitality, of spiritual energy, from the healer to the one who needed healing. Christ promises each one of us that vitality. That’s the promise of the Eucharist.
Shouldn’t we all be a little eager to be reach out then, to be first in line, for that blessing? Do we believe the first line of our 1st reading from the Book of Wisdom, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.”
Ours is God of life, of healing. Don’t be afraid to tell God what you need. He will answer you. “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
What would you say, right now, if you could speak to Jesus at the front of the line? Knowing that God often works through not only healing, but also through what is not healed?
The woman in today’s Gospel got herself to the front of the line, and boldly reached out to God. Likewise, we need to reach out in faith with what we desire. Despite her shame, her fear, her doubt, she got the Lord’s attention. We need to do the same. We need to be first in line spiritually for not only ourselves, but everyone in our lives.
What will you ask Jesus, today, when you get to the front of the line?