Is 12 the new 13? Monday, 14th Week in ordinary time – Mt 9:18-26

Is 12 the new 13? Monday, 14th Week in ordinary time – Mt 9:18-26

The gospel of today is also found in Mark 5: 21-43 and Luke 8: 40-56 and put together with Matthew reveal layers of interesting detail.  When seen together (the meaning of Synoptic) we know that the synagogue officials name was Jarius whose twelve year old daughter was raised from the dead and that a woman, suffering with a haemorrhage for twelve years, was cured.

Interestingly, the gospel of Nicodemus, an apocryphal gospel, also known as the Acts of Pilate (Πράξεις Πιλάτου), mentions the name of the haemorrhaging woman as Bernice. Eusebius of Caesarea, a Greek historian of Christianity, an exegete, and Christian polemicist mentions that the woman was a gentile from Caesarea Philippi.

So is there some magic to the number twelve? None whatsoever unless you also believe there is a curse in the number thirteen. While Jarius was ‘blessed’ with a daughter for twelve years, the woman was ‘cursed’ with a bleeding for twelve years. So rather than looking for solace in numbers, Jarius and the woman chose to look to the Lord, with eyes of faith.

Interestingly the interaction with the dead girl and the woman with the haemorrhage would have rendered Jesus ritually unclean. A pious Jew would think twice before touching a dead person. Remember the priest and the Levite who walked past the man beaten and left for dead in the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’? Their ‘heartless’ actions were perhaps a reaction to the fact that they were on their way to Jerusalem. To touch a potentially dead man would only involve more ceremonial cleansing. They followed the maxim, be safe rather than sorry, and walked on. Sensitivity was lost to ceremonials.

The Jewish law socially separated more people than it united them. A case in point is the woman in the miracle. Being a perpetual menstruant would have rendered her perpetually isolated from the rest.  To compound matters, Luke’s Gospel tells us that she could not be healed by any one and perhaps had spent all her money on doctors. The isolation has permeated all levels, stripping her of all her dignity.  Jesus restores it all when she touches Him. 

The woman’s faith is accompanied by great sensitivity. Surely she knew that a touch from a woman such as her would render the Rabbi unclean. She chose a lesser option; she touched the fringe of His cloak. This was probably one of four tassels of the prayer shawl that Jews wore, as a reminder of God’s law. Then again she touched only the fringe.

The might of the miracle is not seen in the moving of a mountain but in a touch. Where humans are loathe to touching, the divine sets the example even if He should had been rendered unclean in the sight of man. Jesus touches the little girl and allows himself to be touched by the woman with the haemorrhage; a touch strong enough for power to flow out of Him.

For a believer in Jesus Christ, all things are possible, even raising the dead in His name. Perhaps our ‘little faith’ prevents us in believing in the power given to us at our Baptism.  But even if we fail at that, we still have the power to reach out and touch somebody hand, to make the world a better place, if we can.

Perhaps the hard plastic of our mobile phones is the only ‘skin’ we touch these days. Ironically the skin that we are familiar with today is the design covers of our phone that serves as a ‘protection and personalization’ of our gadgets. It’s time we touch the real thing. It’s time we touch the Creator and his creation rather than our created things.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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3 thoughts on “Is 12 the new 13? Monday, 14th Week in ordinary time – Mt 9:18-26”

  • Jocelyn Gonsalves · Edit

    Dear Fr. Warner, I know you have busy schedules. Could you make a little space, where I could drop by for a small chat. I have no restriction for dates or times, since I have long retired from my employment. Instead of messaging, a missed call will suffice. Thank you.

  • So true Fr.Warner, we need to reach out and touch the REAL… to make this World a better place as…we all should TRULY FEEL Our Loving God’s continuous TOUCH…



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