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Take Heart, Daughter

First Reading: Genesis 28:10-22

Jacob left Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place, and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I did not know it.” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone which he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 91:1-4, 14-15

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him.

Gospel: Matthew 9:18-26

While he was thus speaking to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment; for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players, and the crowd making a tumult, he said, “Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.

ESV

july 6

I don’t want to scandalize you, but today’s Gospel? It has to do with that time of the month. (Trust me for a moment.)

We’re all women here. So since we were teenagers—or even earlier, whenever we first got “the talk”—we’ve known that periods are part of being a woman. Part of God’s plan for our bodies (easier to remember when we’re not crying from cramps) and part of the natural rhythm of our lives.

But here’s what we might forget as 21st-century women. Back in Jesus’ time, women were considered ritually unclean when they were bleeding. They had to stay away, apart, on the margins.

So when we hear about a woman who was hemorrhaging for 12 years? It means this poor woman would have been a complete outcast. Shunned by family and friends, cast to the edges of society in shame, basically left for dead because something must have been wrong with her.

Yet here she is at the heart of today’s Gospel: daring to draw near to Jesus, reaching out to touch Him, asking Him for healing. This woman is transgressing every single social rule—rejoining society when she is unclean, touching a man who is not her husband, speaking boldly to a stranger.

She is risking her entire life on this moment.

And Jesus turns to her. He sees her, speaks to her, blesses her, and heals her.

If we miss this story between scenes in the drama of the dead daughter raised from the dead, we miss the whole point. Saint Matthew’s Gospel weaves these two stories of women together—one younger, one older; one dead, one as good-as-dead—to teach us that resurrection is for all of us. Jesus does not shy away from anyone who is in need of His healing love. This story is about all of us.

I have not known a lifetime of ostracism like this woman did. But I have had doctors tell me my body didn’t work the way that “normal” women’s cycles did. I have felt shut out from the world I yearned to join as a woman going through infertility. I have wept as my body bled after miscarriage.

Maybe you have felt powerless from the limits of your body, too. Maybe you have bowed your head and prayed for healing. Maybe you have wanted nothing more to reach out your hand to Christ and beg Him to see you in your suffering.

He does. He will. Take heart, daughter. This is His promise. Trust His word.

photo by Madi Myers-Cook

Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.

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