Being a long-time feminist, I tend to notice when things are more male-centered or female-centered, and, being Catholic, Sunday mornings tend to be more male-centered. Today has been a lovely, woman-centered surprise.
It began early this morning when I read a blog post from Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan containing the homily from the latest ordination in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Albany NY. It was preached jointly by her and the ordinands and referenced several women mystics from the Catholic tradition.
The gospel reading at Mass this morning was the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage and the raising of the daughter of Jairus. As so often happens, the names of these two are lost to history, but I find their stories and their juxtaposition in Mark’s gospel compelling. The mature woman, who has been bleeding for twelve years and has been bankrupted by paying doctors who have not helped her, is healed, unbeknownst to Jesus, when she touches his cloak. When Jesus asks who in the crowd touched him, she comes forward and tells him the story. It was her faith that healed her and allowed her to re-enter society. Given that Jewish women were considered ritually impure when they were bleeding, she would have spent those twelve years unable to touch people and be part of normal life. Her healing gave her her life back.
When this happened, Jesus was on his way to the house of Jairus to heal his daughter who was very ill. Before they arrive, word comes that the girl has died. Jesus continues, though, and raises the girl from her deathbed and restores her to the arms of her loving parents. The Scripture tells us that the girl is twelve years old, an age on the cusp of womanhood. I love the symmetry of the story: two females restored to life, one young, one older, both related to the number twelve, which is so often used in the Bible to denote completeness.
In church this morning, we also got to hear an appeal from a Benedictine sister from Tanzania on behalf of her order’s orphanage there. She is in the US attending college, in Buffalo in my home state of New York, and hoping to go on for her master’s in special education so that she can return to Tanzania to assist in the education of the children in the orphanage. Interestingly, we also have a connection to the Rift Valley Children’s Village, another orphanage in Tanzania, through cousin Sara, who has volunteered there extensively. It was a privilege to be able to offer prayers and financial support this morning. It was also most welcome to hear a woman’s voice from the ambo.
Now, my daughter and I are relaxing together before lunch. I wonder what other woman-centered events the day will bring?