Encounter between Jesus and the hemorrhaging woman,
Painted by Daniel Cariola,
Oil on canvas,
Executed in 1998
© The Encounter Chapel, Magdala

Encounter between Jesus and the hemorrhaging woman,
Painted by Daniel Cariola,
Oil on canvas,
Executed in 1998
© The Encounter Chapel, Magdala

Gospel of 8 July 2019

She touched the fringe of his cloak

Matthew 9: 18-26

While Jesus was speaking, up came one of the officials, who bowed low in front of him and said, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and her life will be saved.’ Jesus rose and, with his disciples, followed him. Then from behind him came a woman, who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years, and she touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I can only touch his cloak I shall be well again.’ Jesus turned round and saw her; and he said to her, ‘Courage, my daughter, your faith has restored you to health.’ And from that moment the woman was well again.

When Jesus reached the official’s house and saw the flute-players, with the crowd making a commotion he said, ‘Get out of here; the little girl is not dead, she is asleep.’ And they laughed at him. But when the people had been turned out he went inside and took the little girl by the hand; and she stood up. And the news spread all round the countryside.

Reflection on the Altar Painting

Today’s painting by Daniel Cariola is hanging behind the altar at the Encounter Chapel in the Holy Land. The floor of this chapel is a historic site, the original 1st century market place of the Magdala port. Fishermen of the Sea of Galilee who wanted to sell their fish, came to this port, probably a familiar place to Jesus’ fishermen disciples. The painting is a close up depiction of the haemorrhaging woman touching Jesus’ cloak. Where the woman touches the cloak, a small sparking light is shown which sits in the very middle of the painting and of the altar. The woman whose hand we see was looking for healing, and found it when she touched the hem of Jesus. What a miraculous encounter she had!

The chapel and the painting are celebrating Jesus’ encounter of all of us; how we touch Jesus and how He touches or moves us. Jesus healed the woman because her initiative in reaching out and touching the hem of His garment was a supreme act of faith in His eyes. That is exactly why this painting works so well, the detail of her touching the fringe of His cloak is all we see… no faces, no architectural setting, nothing else to distract us from this supreme act of faith we are witnessing up close.

As she was a haemorrhaging woman, she would have been set apart from society, probably an outcast at the time. Anyone or anything that she touched would have been considered unclean. So her now touching the fringe of Jesus’ cloak, shows how much He loves the people who are living at the fringe and edge of society. He teaches us that people living on the margins of society have so much to teach us about being humble and… recognising our dependence on the grace of God.

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