By Filipe Almeida
Biblical texts: John 4. 1-42; Luke 8. 43 – 48.
In several passages of the Bible, we find Jesus facing people on the margins of society. When Jesus found vulnerable people and people excluded from the society, he demonstrated his power with integral healing. He always looked at the people he met in a relational and holistic way.
The basic biblical texts for this reflection show how Jesus fully demonstrated his power to women who were excluded for social reasons. And I believe that because they were women, this exclusion process was more intense.
The first example of one of these encounters with Jesus is with the Samaritan woman. We know that the Jews did not relate to the Samaratines and put them on the margins of society and that is why they did not pass through Samaria. When they needed to go to a city whose route was on the way to Samaria, they made the journey if I am not mistaken by the Jordan River so they wouldn’t have to step into Samaria.
Jesus at all times broke the established patterns so that the kingdom of God was properly and fairly signaled. In this way, Jesus passed through Samaria and there he met a Samaritan woman. Jesus meets a woman who, due to being a woman, would already face barriers and challenges, but in the case of this woman, social oppression was more serious. In addition to being a woman and Samaritan, she had already had five marriages and the man she lived with at the time was not her husband, that is, this woman was an excluded by the excluded people.
Through sincere dialogue, at a time when Jesus shared life, this woman recognizes the most transformative message that anyone can receive. She believes in Jesus as the Messiah and receives the water of life in such a significant place.
This same woman is unable to contain herself and shares with all her community that she had met Christ. This woman was an unlikely person to signal something important, but her life is transformed by Jesus and someone “unlikely” signals Jesus’ power to an entire community. (John 4. verses. 29, 30 and 39).
This passage makes me think of how Christ does the same with us today. He did the same in my life! He transformed me (and changes me every day), and he uses someone like me to share Christ in a community too.
Another example of a transformative encounter with Jesus, was with the woman with blood flow. In this passage we have a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. She had spent everything she had with the doctors, who could not cure her. As a woman, like the Samaritan woman, she already suffered many restrictions. In addition, she, according to the Law, was unclean and anyone who touched her or touched something she had touched was made temporarily unclean. For this reason, she did not participate in temple activities and was probably socially despised.
After she touched Jesus she left the crowd so that no one would notice her. After being healed she had to come back because of Jesus’ question (“who touched me?” – Luke 8 verse 47). For this woman to have come close to Jesus was very difficult, to have exposed herself in this way was her last hope of being healed and she risked disappointment. She went to Jesus and did it. What an example this woman gives us to reach out to Jesus and ask for his help after we don’t know what else to do or maybe after trying everything by our own strength.
She was not healed because she touched Jesus, but because she had faith. The woman knew that she would not go unnoticed by Jesus, who had the power to heal her, just because He knew all things.
I believe it was important for this women not to go unnoticed so everyone knew that she no longer needed to be excluded from society. Once again this woman proved to be courageous and once again she demonstrated faith in Jesus. At that time, the whole society, including hypocritical leaders, could understand that this woman could start her life in society again.
The healing that Jesus gave to that woman went beyond physical, but it was also spiritual and social as Jesus repositioned her in front of everyone. I believe it is also an emotional cure, because a woman excluded as she was 12 years ago, should be in deep sadness and from that day her emotional could have a process of restoration.
Jesus demonstrated his healing and transformation directly in the lives of two women in different ways. Jesus cared for the excluded from the excluded. Jesus used the lives of these women to let communities know about his kingdom, his love and salvation. How can we apply this today in our lives and from there apply it so that lives may know the transforming power of Jesus through our lives?