27th June 2021
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
DAUGHTER, YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL,GO IN PEACE AND BE HEALED OF YOUR DISEASE
I want us to notice that in today's Gospel passage when Jairus, the synagogue leader falls at the feet of Jesus and begs him to heal his daughter, he is accompanied by a great crowd that thronged about him.
And on the way to do that, Jesus is interrupted and in the process someone's name is changed and a future is restored. Among the crowd is a woman who is given no name, unlike Jairus' daughter who is called, "my little daughter" by none other than her father.
How do you normally feel when someone identifies you as, " my son, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, my friend? "
Such references give you a sense of worth, pride, identity, belonging and entitlement. When such references lack, it means that feelings of worth, pride, identity, belonging and entitlement will also lack.
Apart from being referred to as a woman, the woman who has been healed by Jesus in today's Gospel passage is also referred to by her bleeding that disturbed her for twelve years.
We have not been told the type of bleeding that she had but this condition would have rendered her both impure and unable to bear children which perhaps explains why she was there all alone.
The woman hopes just to touch the edge of Jesus' garment desperate for healing. She has no advocate, no known family, no community to beseech Jesus on her behalf. She is nothing, just " the woman who had bled for twelve years. "
Yet after Jesus discerns what happened : that power had gone out of him and after she stepped forward in fear and trembling to admit her deed and hope, Jesus gives her a new name, calling her daughter, calling her a person of great faith and naming her healed.
It seems that when our condition or situation changes, we get a new name and a new identity. Names are hard to shake off. They stick on us like an object on a glue. By calling the woman my daughter, Jesus establishes a relationship with her, a personal relationship that now makes her part of the family of God which will now be her identity.
Notice for instance, that when Jesus names Jairus' daughter as one who sleeps rather than dead, the people laughed. Names, whether nicknames or official or some other descriptions are convenient because they work to summarize a lot of things about a person into one element ; but they are also dangerous because they reduce us, strip us of our individuality and uniqueness, and label us according to what someone else sees.
When you hear or mention someone's name, what do you see or what comes to your mind? Is it a person's skin colour, physical appearance, age, ethnicity or belief, economic status, academic qualifications, behaviour or even political affiliation? After what we see, do we characterize them as different from us?
Doesn't this differentiation also trickle into our our church whereby someone's name will make us characterize him or her as the one who does not receive the Eucharist, the one who has not wedded in the church, the one who does not attend jumuiya,or the one who should not do something in church?
If this is how we view people, let us not forget that Jesus is exactly our opposite. Jesus is constantly crossing borders whether geographical or social or any other so as to see people for who they are and draw them into a relationship. By doing so Jesus gives them hope that earlier on had been exhausted.
This woman wants a cure but Jesus wants more than just a cure, he wants to give the woman an identity, her bleeding stopped but her healing continues and that's why the woman is no longer just a woman or the one who has been bleeding for twelve years. She is now a daughter, one restored to family, community, health and life.
The word of God today gives us the opportunity to recognize that we too, often are labelled, reduced to one attribute or incident that hardly captures our identity and aspirations and yet has named and shaped our behaviour, our present and our future in ways that are unhealthy and unhelpful. Don't we also label people?
Today we are being invited to call to mind those names we have been given or we have given others, that seem to chase us and those we label, through the day and follow us like our shadows on a hot sunny day and haunt us at night, to name those illnesses, circumstances, situations, failures, missteps or regrets that somehow name and define us then in faith go and give people godly names and believe that in Jesus, we are given new names.