How many of you remember what happened between Pope Francis and the woman who was eager to greet him? Last New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis was greeting people at the Vatican. After reaching out to greet a child, a woman unexpectedly grabs him by his hand and yanks him towards her.
In that moment, Pope Francis, who’s known all around the world for his kindness and gentleness, turns from Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk. He loses it and slaps her hand. You can see the video on YouTube.
In his defense, this woman violated rules of common decency.
But what that woman did to the Pope is nothing compared to what this woman does to Jesus. Because by grabbing him, not only does she violate rules of common decency, she violates ritual purity laws. She has transmitted her uncleanness to a rabbi.
So how would Jesus respond? Would he, like Pope Francis go all Hulk on her and slap her hand? Would he rebuke her and humiliate her in public?
Jesus doesn’t do any of that. Instead,
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)
Jesus doesn’t get angry at her. Jesus doesn’t scold her. Instead, he speaks tenderly to her and calls her “daughter”.
Jesus has already healed her physical suffering. But what I love about this moment is how he recognizes the other ways she’s suffered. For 12 years, this woman has longed for love, belonging and significance. For 12 years, she’s experienced only rejection, pain and loneliness. It’s in these areas of her heart that Jesus now speaks into.