Four sentences. Fifty-six words.

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Illustration by Br. Martin Erspamer, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana. Used with permission.

Matthew’s account of the hemorrhaging woman is a brief interruption in the Jairus story. What are we to make of it? Let’s review this important interlude line by line: 

Suffering for twelve years. The time it takes a child to reach puberty. The age of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:42).  

She came up behind him. How could she face Jesus after twelve years of not facing anyone? Her behavior suggests that we can approach Jesus from any angle and in any way— boldly, hesitatingly, sneakily.  

If only. There is hope in these words. If only I. Yes, there is something I can do.  

I can touch his cloak. Even Jesus’ clothes exude healing.  

Jesus turned around. He looks for her. He looks at her. Instantly he intuits her story. Jesus looks for us and at us, too. He knows our stories.  

Courage. She has already displayed great courage by approaching Jesus. But she will also need to have courage as she reenters ordinary daily life. Courage is not only for special occasions. It is for every day.  

Daughter. For twelve years this woman has not belonged to anyone. But with a single word Jesus swoops her back up and into community where she belongs. Where we all belong.  

The woman was cured. She has no name, which makes it easier for us to realize that she represents all of us—especially when we are isolated, exhausted, on the brink of despair. Jesus’ cure went far beyond the stoppage of the flow of blood. He restored a woman to her full dignity as God’s child and our sister. We must do the same for one another.  

Sr. Melannie Svoboda  

© Liturgical Press.

Sr. Melannie Svoboda

Melannie Svoboda, a Sister of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, writes and leads retreats nationally. Her latest book is The Grace of Beauty: Its Mystery, Power, and Delight in Daily Life. Visit her blog “Sunflower Seeds” at

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