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Would you have touched Jesus’ cloak?


Fr. Dan Daly, S.J. - published on 07/04/16

Asking for help is hard for us -- many of us have problems we would prefer to ignore

Veronica and Chloe were eager to see Jesus, the famous teacher from up north. He would be arriving soon and speaking in the town square. The two women were packing a picnic lunch so that they could enjoy something to eat after listening to his instruction.

As she lifted the picnic basket to the top of the table, Veronica felt weak and a little dizzy. She sat down while Chloe continued packing.

Chloe said to her, “You ought to ask Jesus to heal you.”

“Don’t be silly,” Veronica responded. “Jesus has more important things to do than worry about my dizzy spells. Just give me a minute. I’ll be fine.”

“Veronica, you’re not fine,” Chloe insisted. “You’ve been sick for a long time. And the bleeding has not gotten any better. If anyone should ask the Teacher for some help, it’s you.”

Veronica responded with a bit of irritation, “Chloe, I don’t want to bother him with this.” And then softer, “You’re a wonderful friend. Let’s just go listen to his talk.”

Chloe did not say any more. She finished packing and then the two headed to the center of town. They came to the main road just as Jesus and the disciples were passing by. A huge crowd had gathered. Somehow the two women managed to join the procession just a few steps behind Jesus and Jairus, the synagogue leader. When Veronica saw Jesus, suddenly she knew Chloe was right. She looked over to her friend, who simply said, “Go on.” Veronica moved up behind Jesus, reached out and touched his cloak.

We do not know how it was that Veronica decided to reach out to Jesus that day, but we admire her for it. It is not always easy to ask someone for help, even God.

In making a request we are forced to acknowledge a problem. Veronica would have preferred to ignore her ailment. Thinking about it only reminded her of all the pain and hardship it had caused for so many years. The bleeding sapped her energy, restricted her activities and subjected her to the scorn of others. She had tried for so long and spent so much money to find a solution, but nothing seemed to help. The problem worried and saddened her, and made her embarrassed.

Many of us have problems we would prefer to ignore. We would rather pretend the problems do not exist than acknowledge them honestly.

Asking not only requires that we acknowledge a problem; it also makes us vulnerable. We risk being even more embarrassed or disappointed than we are already. Veronica did not know how Jesus might respond to her request. He might want to avoid her because the bleeding made her impure. He might have more important people or more pressing problems to attend. If Jesus ignored her request or turned her down, she would be crushed.

Faith is not just the confidence in God’s power to help and heal us; faith is also a relationship with God strong enough to support our request for help. May we all have the faith of Veronica and follow her example in reaching out to God.

For the Mass readings for the July 4, click here. To learn more about the painting of the woman touching the cloak of Jesus, click here.

Author’s note: Scripture provides no name for the woman with the hemorrhage. We might imagine that her name was Veronica and that she had a good friend named Chloe.

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