While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.
There’s a thing in physics called entropy. Basically, it’s disorder and there’s a rule that says that disorder always increases. Leave an apple on its own and it will eventually rot away to dust and scatter to the four winds. Same with a car, or a house, or a human. The classic example of always-increasing entropy is the teenager’s bedroom.
The only way to fight entropy is by putting energy in. Rust-proof the car. Freeze the apple. Bribe the teenager with pizza. But in the end, entropy always wins.
The Jewish concept of uncleanness worked in a similar way – it always increases. The uncleanness spreads. If a clean pot touches an unclean one, the uncleanness spreads and both must be broken. If a clean person touches an unclean one, the uncleanness spreads and both need to perform the rituals for cleanliness. Left to ourselves, uncleanness always increases, and in the end, it will win.
But Jesus reverses that. In these readings we have two unclean people – a dead girl and a haemorrhaging woman. Anyone who touched either of them would become ‘infected’ with their uncleanness and unable to worship in the Temple. But not Jesus. He touches them and spreads cleanness, wholeness, life, blessing.
The flow of power is the opposite way – not darkness, brokenness and hurt flowing out and hurting others, but light, healing and love flowing in and restoring God’s image. Entropy reversed. Eden restored. Life, very much in all its fullness.
Loving Creator God, thank you that your healing is greater than all my hurts, Your mercy is greater than all my failings, Your love is greater than all my doubts. Amen.
Fay Rowland is an author worshipping at Christ the King Church of England, Kettering