Is 12 the new 13? – Monday, 14th Week in ordinary time- Matthew 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.

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