Reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew on the woman haemorrhaging blood for twelve years, my thoughts lingered on the strong contrast that is presented to us: the woman – alone, silent, humble, full of faith – and “the minstrels and the multitude” – noisy, intrusive, cynical, hard of heart.
Our Lord says to the woman, “Be of good cheer”. The Son of God calls her “daughter”. But to the others His words are short: “Give place”.
And we are told by St. Matthew that He would not enter the house of the ruler whose daughter appeared to be dead until the minstrels and multitude were “put forth”.
Is not that lone woman perhaps an outstanding example of what modern spiritual writers might describe as “human come to full stature”? She is reticent, furtive, unassertive and diffident, holding her peace instead of speaking out. No. If she serves as an example, she will more likely remind us of the common portrait of the much-caricatured “pre-Vatican II Catholic”, silent at Mass, head bowed in humble adoration, mumbling Paters and Aves as the great Mystery unfolds at the altar, content with a glimpse of the Host and the Elevation, “a touch of His garment”.
Much contemporary scorn has been heaped upon such as she, while the minstrels and the multitude, for their part, have seemingly prevailed, even invading the sanctuary with their noisy and noisome clamour, minding “earthly things”, fully and – loudly – confident in their position and possessions.
Yet we cannot fail to see that it is the confident and assertive minstrels and multitude that end by being excluded by the Son of God from His great Work. But the shy and diffident invalid, of no interest to the mob and unable to draw from them notice or compassion, merits the Divine encounter that wins her far more than just the healing of a flow of blood.
She does not disrupt, as the mob does, the Presence with her noise.
Her conversation, unlike theirs, is “in heaven”.