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She is not a renowned saint, she is not the Blessed Mother, she is not an angel, but no matter where you go her image is in every Catholic church. The sixth station of the Cross captures the story of Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus. A woman steps forth from the crowd and boldly approaches the Lord with her cloth and removes the blood from Jesus’ face; then she mysteriously disappears into legacy. Who is this woman? I have a theory.

Is there a passage in Scripture that discusses anything related to a cloth which removes the flow of blood. There is with the woman who was hemorrhaging for twelve years. She says, “If I can only touch the hem of his garment, I will be cured.” There are, of course, two problems. First, she is unclean. She cannot just walk into a crowd of people bumping into everyone with her condition, making everyone ritually unclean. What if there is a priest in the crowd? This woman, comes in contact with him and makes him unclean.  He can’t work in the temple. He has to go on unemployed for a few weeks without pay. Then he sacrifices a red heifer, but that costs a lot of money which he cannot afford because he is unemployed. The woman cannot just jump into the crowd. It is not right.

The second problem is this: Jesus happens to be in a hurry. Jairus’s daughter is at the brink of death, and the clock is ticking. He does not have the time to discuss and interview the woman. Perhaps she should try to seek the Lord’s help another time. Yet, the determined woman knows there is a way to solve the problems. She will avoid the crowd by reaching low to touch the helm of his garment. In this way, Jesus does not have to stop his emergency run. She stretches her arm and makes contact with his clothing. It worked. She is immediately cured. For the first time in twelve years, her body is filled with health and strength. While she is in a state of euphoria, Jesus comes to a complete stop, at the horror of the little girl’s father, and says, “Who touched me?” The disciples are in a state of incredulity. “What are you talking about? Look at the crowd that presses in on you; everyone is bumping into you. We have an emergency to attend to; there is a girl that is dying; keep focused, you are distracted.” Jesus stands his ground, and he will not move until he finds out who touched him. The woman is busted. She knows she will be humiliated, her illness exposed, and she will probably get blamed for the child’s death. So the woman goes before the Lord and tells him the whole story: twelve years of suffering, twelve years of doctors’ ripping her off, twelve years of a failed healthcare system, twelve years without a job, twelve years without having her own twelve-year-old child, twelve years of not having a life. And Jesus listens to her, every word. The reason why he listens is because he has all the time in the world. He cares, like no one else. After she is done, Jesus says to her, “Go, your faith has saved you.” She is no longer a social outcast, no longer in debt, no longer in pain, she gets her life back. What does she do with her new life? To answer, we must now go to the sixth station on the Way of the Cross. There a woman is about to offer Jesus a cloth. Now the roles have shifted. Now Jesus is the one who is bleeding, and the woman is the one who is providing the cloth that will remove the blood, the shame, and the stigma. The woman now reciprocates.

I am not sure if there is a connection between the two events. There is no textual support to tie the two stories together. It is a rather imaginative link between the two. But this I know. What makes Christians so different from everyone else is that we reciprocate. Every time Jesus does something for us we reciprocate. When Christ forgives us, we reciprocate. When he gives us hope, we reciprocate. When he gives us gifts and talent, we reciprocate. Paul once said in his letter to the Corinthians that Christ who was rich became poor so that we could be rich. We reciprocate. We, who are rich because of Christ, become poor so that others can be rich. This is who we are; this is our identity. Whatever God gives us, we reciprocate.

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