In a society which elevates self promotion as worthy traits, it is difficult to imagine learning a lesson from a woman crawling on her hands and knees to secretly be healed by God. In a society which awards self accomplishment, it’s even more difficult to accept that it is honorable to sit and wait for healing rather than demand immediate attention. Our society, while offering wonderful opportunities for anyone and everyone to express their God-given talents, the last character trait we expect to see highlighted is humility. But it is humility that is our greatest teacher. In both healing stories we hear today in the Gospel, it is humility rather than self promotion and accomplishment that is lifted up by God.
The woman, despite the fact she had been seriously ill for twelve years without a single moment of relief from doctors, came to God secretly almost crawling on the ground just for a chance to touch His garments. By today’s standards she might have been accused of not having enough self esteem to approach God. Some may even ask, “Doesn’t she know God can heal her? All she has to do is name it and claim it!” God makes a lesson of her humility when He brings her to the front, “Who touched Me?” She was forced to admit she had dared to touch the Lord. She had dared to have enough faith that God would heal her. She knew the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. How many in the crowd knew the Old Testament prophecy this woman knew? (See Malachi 4.2) How many understood that when she reached out to touch the fringe of His garments, she was declaring Jesus to be the Messiah? Even so, this woman chose not to teach others to read the Holy Scriptures; she didn’t even want to be seen. It was enough to have simple faith that Jesus was the Messiah. She was healed and God lifted up her humility for us to learn a lesson.
The man whose daughter was near death begged Jesus to come to his house. This bold statement reflected a man that knew Jesus Christ had the ability to heal. Then while Jesus was on His way to heal the daughter, He was interrupted by a strange woman sneaking around to delay Jesus by getting healed. It was just enough of a delay that his daughter died. Rather than getting upset with the woman or going on a rage against the disciples for not keeping Jesus moving, the man was willing to walk away. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid. Only believe and she will be made well.” (Luke 8.50)
If we were in the place of either the woman or the father in this morning’s Gospel story, would we have had the humility to sit quietly and wait for God’s healing? Or would we rant and rave that we were here first? Would we have been willing to allow the woman to approach Jesus? Or would we have dismissed her as just another member of the crowd? It is easy to follow the lead of our society and promote our agenda as more important than the others in our group. It is more convenient to demand first come first served rather than allow others to receive God’s attention or blessings before us. But then again any lesson worth learning isn’t easy. The path of self promotion and self accomplishment might be the preferred American way, but it isn’t the Orthodox Way. The Orthodox way is the way of humility.