The ancient fresco (above) of the woman who touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed is found in the catacombs of Saints Peter and Marcellinus in Rome. Her story in Mark’s gospel is placed in the middle of the story of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus the synagogue official from the dead. Many say Mark’s gospel is written in Rome. We read the stories of the woman and the dead girl today at Mass. (Mark 5,21-43)
You wonder why the woman’s story interrupts the very dramatic story of the dead girl? Could the fresco in the catacombs offer a clue? Did Roman Christians see her pointing to the way they could know Jesus and the mystery of death?
She doesn’t approach Jesus and speak to him face to face as the little girl’s father does. She just touches his cloak and power went out from him and cured her. In a sense, the woman is like every believer after her who knows the Risen Jesus, not face to face, but through signs.
Those buried in the catacombs were like her. They were baptized with water and received the body and blood of Christ in signs of bread and wine. Like the woman, they touched his garments in the sacraments, and he welcomed them in sacraments. He sees their faith and gives them new life.
When the Catechism of the Catholic Church was issued after the Second Vatican Council, the publishers of the book were instructed to put the picture of the woman touching the cloak of Jesus at the beginning of its section on the sacraments. She’s our guide to sacramental faith.
She tells us to believe and touch the signs that Jesus gives us.