From today’s 19th Annotation readings..Luke’s gospel writes:
He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
This is one of the rarer stories in the gospel where Jesus doesn’t wait for someone to be asked to be healed, or even someone else doesn’t bring this woman crippled by a spirit to Jesus–quite a telling point.
First of all, most people probably thought she was contagious. Or crazy. Or maybe that she deserved her lot in life (since they say she was crippled by a spirit).. So the fact that Jesus would even touch this woman was quite the radical thing to do. So radical that she didn’t dare ask him to do it, for she assumed the answer would be “no way.”
How often am I unwilling to ask Jesus to touch me? How often am I willing to stay in my own infirmities? Do I choose other things to settle for instead of Jesus?
I fear the answer is often “yes.”
I know that I defeat myself with negative thinking sometimes, thinking of myself as “less than.”
But that is truly a faithless statement. For Jesus touches us even when we don’t want Him to. Jesus comes and touches the worst parts of ourselves. The parts of ourselves that bend us over and bring us to our knees in pain.
The dirty and sinful parts that we don’t want anyone to even know about.
People believed that their sins often placed them in poor health during the time of Christ. They believed that their situation was just the way things are, that they got what they deserved and that there was now no way out.
And Jesus says, “No way.”
There is no way that I cannot touch you and heal you and forgive whatever might be bending you over in pain.
Even when you are content to be in pain, Jesus fights his way through the crowd, despite his unpopular decision and the public outcry and the ritual violation–there is nothing that keeps Jesus from us.