When Life Is Placed on Hold
20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matt. 9:20-22 ESV; see also Mk. 5:24b-34).
In order to suppress the COVID 19 virus the whole island of Luzon in the Philippines has been placed on lockdown. Luzon is densely populated with about half of the Philippine population living there including the residents of Manila.
Offices, businesses, schools and malls are closed. While health workers continue their work diligently all other persons are mandated to stay home. In our town only one person per household is allowed to go out of the house to buy food or medicines. A quarantine pass is required.
A national inter-agency task force assesses the situation daily, recommends policy decisions to the president, and issues guidelines to the public.
This seems to be the scenario in many countries. For millions, life is on hold and we do not know for how long — months? a year?
In Matthew’s Gospel we see this woman who has been suffering from a blood disease. Her ailment has placed her life on hold for 12 years. Jews considered a woman afflicted with the hemorrhage medically and ceremonially unclean. She was not allowed to mingle with other Jews, for every object and every person she touched became unclean, too. This human being knew exactly what “social distancing” meant.
In Mark’s account there was a crowd pressing around Jesus and therefore the woman could not approach Him and plead with Him. But this woman believed in Jesus and trusted that the good Rabbi would help her. Because she was not allowed to touch other persons and there was a crowd around Jesus she thought just touching the fringe of His cloak would be sufficient to heal her.
It would be a mistake to think that it was the garment that healed the woman. This would be similar to believing that relics have healing power. It was Jesus who loved this woman and who healed her, not the garment.
Her disease had placed her life on hold for 12 years. We do not know how long the pandemic will last. But we know that because of sin we live in a fallen world subject to disease, suffering and death.
But we also know that Jesus values our physical bodies. He values our lives. He created us. And He loved us so much that He gave His own life for us. Through His victory over death Jesus has redeemed us from sin, death, Satan and hell. By God’s grace through faith we share in His victory.
Dear Jesus, guide the scientists searching for the vaccine agains the virus. Grant wisdom to the leaders of countries making critical decisions. Help us do our part by obeying government directives, social distancing, washing our hands. But above all help us to put our ultimate trust in You alone. Amen.
Submitted by Emmanuel N. ILAGAN