Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve [years of age], was dying. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. (Luke 8:40-53)
Among my friends there are a few that are very well informed. In vain I have tried to invite them to write about what they know. Like angels, they remain silent although some of their knowledge seeps through in conversations we have.
Recently, I have been proposed to play a game that goes more or less like this:
“Suppose all the Holy Scriptures have at least one prophetic interpretation for any given age. Imagine it as a rose with many petals where the story of mankind is written. Although the rose is one, its petals are infinite.”
The suggestion reminded me of The Aleph by J. L. Borges. The short story contains various philosophical ambiguities since Borges many times “confuses concepts like infinite and indefinite” observes Fr. Leonardo Castellani in a passage I read but I was never able to find again. The Aleph imagined by Borges is very similar to my friend’s mystical, multidimensional rose.
Ricardo Sáenz-Hayes, a friend of Borges, with whom I share a great-grandmother, wrote many erudite books during the first part of the 20th century. His style of writing was rather baroque and that may have moved a minimalist, sober, almost spartan writer as Mr. Borges to make fun of him in his short story, The Aleph. Many times I suspected that the main protagonist Carlos A. Daneri was a caricature of either Mr. Sáenz-Hayes or perhaps of Leopoldo Lugones — both Argentine writers who were contemporaries of Borges. That connection made me remember one happy thought of Sáenz-Hayes, who by the way, was a renowned French scholar:
“La réalité perçue n’est pas la réalité totale. L’Histoire de l’Humanité est une suite indéfinie d’avancées et de reculs dans la liberté, d’avancées et de reculs dans l’oppression organisée, d’avancées et de reculs dans la dignité humaine.” My belabored translation: “Perceived reality is not total reality. The History of Humanity is an indefinite series of advances and setbacks in freedom, advances and setbacks in organized oppression, advances and setbacks in human dignity.” —Ricardo Sáenz Hayes.
Keep that concept handy as we enter into one of the most mysterious passages of the Gospel, the one quoted at the beginning of this post. I had been thinking (perhaps too much) about the present realities that we cannot see but are somehow detectable through their echoes in the visible world. Of course, as Christians we believe that spiritual forces —invisible to our physical eyes— work to deprive humanity of freedom, to oppress mankind in manifold ways in an attempt to rob humans of the extraordinary dignity that the Creator has given us. That dignity was confirmed when Christ’s Incarnation took place. God decided to be Man. Who could ask for a greater honor!
But I digress as usual. The parable begins with:
“Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him.”
(Returned, ὑποστρέφειν, hypostrephein; and at the end, expecting, looking for, προσδοκῶντες, proskodōntes)
Now, let us imagine our exercise: detecting a hidden prophetic petal in this portion of St. Luke’s Gospel. In doing so, we will test the possibility that the word “returned” points not only at Our Lord’s return to that particular geographical place. We have seen that Jesus often builds parables using human elements, natural events, etc. This may be another occasion in which the teaching is hiding in plain sight. At the parousia people are eagerly looking for Christ to return to them . The same is depicted in this scene.
Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve [years of age], was dying.
The man pleads Jesus to heal his little girl. His name comes from “or” the Hebrew root for “shine” [Lat. fulgor, gloria] or “glory”. The man is a man of faith, a leader in the local synagogue. His little girl is only twelve years old and she is dying at that very moment. The little girl is an image of the Church at the time of Christ’s return. (cf. Luke 18:6-8 “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”)
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
Now we are somewhat abruptly taken to the moment when a woman suffering from an issue of blood decides to secretly touch the hem of Christ’s garment hoping she will be cured. It is important to notice that the woman was sick for twelve years, the same length of time that the sick young girl had been alive.
According to the Law of Moses, a person with her health condition should have not been mixing with a crowd. (cf. Leviticus 15:25-31) She knows that. So, she decides to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, the tassels mandated by Law as well.
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.’” (Numbers 15:37-41 see also Matthew 23:5-7)
The tassels are distinctive of the people of Israel and their special relationship with their Creator and His commandments. As a special property of God, Israel is obligated to be a people “pure before God” not touching anything unclean.
The poor woman touches the edge of Christ’s garment and she is cured instantly. Here I must quote something that I read somewhere but I can’t find now. I will paraphrase what I remember:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways […] As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. If you were to know all the wisdom there is you would have merely touched the hem of my garment, says the Lord. [If any reader knows where this comes from, please let me know! It is similar to Isaiah 55:8-9]
So the woman has acquired the highest wisdom, the fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
The woman is led to touch, to know a higher reality, “total reality” to use the words of Sáenz-Hayes in the quote above. That higher, total reality is Logos Incarnate walking among mankind: Jesus Christ. Whatever disordered energy that is driving the woman’s infirmity is instantly fulminated by the power emanating from Logos. (See my previous post Really?)
This woman aptly represents the fleshly nation of Israel at the present time. As Jesus returns in parousia the nation of Israel will be granted the grace of a higher form of wisdom and will see the Messiah and understand who He is. The impurity will be removed from Israel at that time. Read Zechariah 13:1-4 where the prophet explains:
“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”
That passage also mentions the bleeding cuts that false prophets used to inflict on themselves. Those bleeding cuts were the sign of Baal prophets in their spiritual impurity before the True God. Their issues of blood are a sign of spiritual
uncleanness. However, a time will come when even those stubborn men will seek the divine cure and forget their former office. It is God who declares to Zechariah that all of those manifestations of impurity will cease. There we see another prophetic reflection, that of Our Lord of Mercy from whom blood and water issued like a fountain in Calvary. That is the holy counterpart of the impurity that afflicts Israel and the world until that moment when they convert at the very conclusion of the age.
Thus the woman represents Israel and she has been sick for twelve years, the same length of time that the little girl has been alive. Therefore the girl represents the Church and both the conversion of Israel and the apparent demise of the Church coincide in time at the end of the age. Israel has been spiritually polluted for as long as the Holy Church of Christ has been active.
As the Logos manifests Himself in glory He rebuilds the fleshly Israel and brings His Church back to a glorious life. At that time, Israel will find its universal destiny in the Church and finally the oracle of God will be fulfilled.
These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
The laughing crowd that can’t believe in Jesus’ power to bring the the little girl back to life, those are the foolish pagans who do not understand how death was defeated at Calvary. The little girl is only sleeping and will come back to live a full life. The Church will have to live her Passion just as her Master did but that “sleep” will be short. Christ is coming to gently wake her up after her purification through suffering is completed.
Very interesting, Carlos. If Jesus is the new temple, as is clear from the Gospel of John at least, and a garment is a veil of sorts, then that would imply that the Church is His garment, that which clothes and veils Him. He was stripped of his garment during His passion (which was itself what the average Joe thought he wanted) in a way that is not unlike the current efforts within and without His Church to remove Her from the landscape. (As a very recent example, when a store like Target decides to showcase the perverted and satanic, they are not so much expecting to promote alternative “lifestyles” as they are making a statement that the Church and its doctrine are foolish and to be disregarded by those in the mainstream.)
It is also interesting that it was the veil that tore in two at the moment of His death. Might the stripping of the altars that we see going on now be part of the tearing of the fabric of the Church that signals a new era in salvation history, just as it did 2000 years ago? If so, we can expect something, not so much new, but improved after the current upheaval is finished.
Just a few thoughts that your excellent essay triggered.
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You have given us a lot to think about, Castelletto. The Passion of the Church is sadly neglected by so many theologians and commenters but it is not just a step we have to go through. The Passion of the Church is an event akin to the Passion of Our Lord in Calvary. The world is going to change as a result. The change will be so profound that none of us can predict the future shape of our world.
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