October 29, 2017

Gospel Commentary for the Seventh Sunday of Luke (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)

Seventh Sunday of Luke

Jairus' Daughter and the 

Woman With an Issue of Blood

Luke 8:41-56

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Luke

By Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

40-44. And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the multitude gladly received Him: for they were all waiting for Him. And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus feet, and besought Him that He would come into his house: for he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went, the multitude thronged Him. And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed by any, came behind Him, and touched the border of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

Jesus returned from the country of the Gadarenes, and the multitude was waiting for Him, eager for both His teaching and His miracles. Then He was approached by a certain ruler of the synagogue, a man who was neither poor nor insignificant, but the foremost of society. The Evangelist even gives the man's name, so that the miracle might become the more renowned through this confirmable evidence of its truth. In his great need this man falls down before Jesus, although even without the urgency of this need, he ought to have fallen down and acknowledged Jesus as God. Nevertheless, affliction can compel a man to turn to what is better, as David says when he speaks of the horse or mule which has no understanding, "whose jaws thou must afflict with bit and bridle when they come not nigh unto thee" (Ps. 31:9). But as Jesus went along the way to the house of Jairus, a woman drew near to Him who showed exceedingly great faith. She approached and touched the border of His garment with the firm faith that if she could only touch His clothing, she would be made whole. Immediately the flow of blood stopped. Like a man who brings his eye close to a bright light, or brings a dry stick close to fire, and they immediately react, so also the woman brought her faith close to Him Who has power to heal—and immediately she obtained healing. She gave no thought to anything else, neither the many years of her illness, nor the failure of her doctors. She only believed and was made whole. Understand that first she touched Jesus noetically, and only then did she touch Him bodily.

45-48. And Jesus said, "Who touched Me?" When all denied, Peter and they that were with Him said, "Master, the multitude throng Thee and press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me?" And Jesus said, "Somebody hath touched Me: for I perceive that power is gone out of Me." And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before Him, she declared unto Him before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately. And He said unto her, "Daughter, take courage: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."

The Lord desires to show the womans faith to all the people so that they might become imitators of her, and also so that Jairus might have good hope for his daughter. Therefore He makes manifest what had happened in secret and asks who it was that touched Him. Peter, being bold, scolds the Lord for His question, saying, "So many people throng Thee, and yet sayest Thou, Who touched Me?" But he did not understand what the Lord was asking. The Lord was inquiring, "Who touched Me with faith?" and not simply, "Whose hand touched Me?" Just as one man has ears with which he hears, while another has ears but does not hear, so also one man touches with faith, while another may draw near but his heart is far away. The Lord knows that it was the woman, but He asks the question, as I have said, in order to reveal her faith and to give hope to the ruler of the synagogue. He asks, and thus draws attention to the woman. "For I perceive that power is gone out of Me," He says, and rightly so. The prophets did not have power that went out from them; instead, they worked miracles by the grace of God. But Jesus is the source of every good thing and the source of all power, and He indeed has power that goes out from Him. The Lord grants the woman a double healing: He first heals her sickness and then dispels the fear from her trembling soul by saying, "Daughter, take courage."

49-56. While He yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogues house, saying to him, "Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master." But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, "Fear not: only believe, and she shall be made whole." And when He came into the house, He permitted no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but He said, "Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth." And they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And He put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, "Maiden, arise." And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and He commanded to give her food. And her parents were astonished: but He charged them that they tell no man what was done.

When Jesus heard a man say to the ruler of the synagogue, "trouble not the Master," He did not wait for the ruler of the synagogue to speak to Him, but speaks first Himself, so that the ruler of the synagogue could not say, "I have no need for You; the evil deed has already happened; behold she has died, the one whom we expected You to heal," or any such words as these. For he did not believe, and was a Jew. Christ, therefore, speaks first and says, "Fear not; only believe. Consider the woman who had the issue of blood. Imitate her and you will not miss the mark." He permits only Peter, John, and James to enter because they were the Lords favorites and chief of the Apostles, and because they were able to keep silent concerning the miracle. The Lord did not want to reveal Himself to many before it was time, perhaps because of the spite of the Jews. Thus He hid most of His deeds so that the Jews would not become inflamed with envy and thus liable to judgment. We ought also to do the same; when someone becomes envious of us, let us not reveal our accomplishments to him, so as not to wound him and cause him to be even more envious and cast him into sin. Instead, we should strive to go unnoticed by him. The Lord said, "she is not dead, but sleepeth," calling death sleep because He was about to raise her from the dead as if from sleep. Those who heard Him laughed Him to scorn, so that the miracle would be all the more miraculous. In order that later they would not be able to claim that she was not dead, but had been asleep, the Lord arranged by divine economy that He should first be mocked when He said that she was not dead but asleep. Thus He shut the mouths of those who wanted to slander Him, for it was so clear that she was dead that they even mocked Him when He said that she was not dead. He put them all outside, perhaps to teach us not to crave glory and not to do anything for show, and also to teach that when someone is about to work a miracle, he ought not to be in the midst of many people, but alone and undistracted. Then the Lord brought back the spirit of the young girl. He did not put another soul into her but made the same soul which had slipped away return to her body again. He commanded that she be given something to eat, to provide even greater assurance and confirmation that she had risen from the dead. These things may also be understood in this manner: the woman with the issue of blood represents every soul which pours forth bloody and murderous sin. For each and every sin is the murderer and slayer of the soul. When this soul, therefore, touches the clothing of Jesus, when it touches, that is, His Incarnation, believing that the Son of God took on human flesh, then the soul is healed. And this is possible even if someone should be a ruler of the synagogue, that is, if someone has a mind which rules over the many things it has collected in its greed.1 Then the daughter of that mind, its thought, is sick. But let that mind only call upon Jesus and believe, and his thought will be made whole.


1. The word synagogue [synagoge] is derived from the verb synago which means to bring together, whether it be people in an assembly or things in a collection. Bl. Theophylact here plays on both senses of the word.