Can we talk about something? (Of course, we can. It's my space, and I decide what we're talking about. ...okay, it's God's space, and He decides what we're talking about.)
It's about the bleeding woman.
Remember her? Her story is told in the Gospels, in Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8. This woman has been bleeding for twelve years. She has exhausted her resources seeking a cure, but nothing in this world can heal her. We don't know how old she is. We don't know if she's married, divorced, never married, a virgin. We don't know if she has kids. We don't know a whole lot about her. We don't even know where she was from, except to know that she happened to be in that place where Jesus was - but does she live there or did she travel there? We just don't know.
But I guarantee you that everyone from her town knew a whole lot about her. I guarantee you that everyone local knew her story.
She was the woman who couldn't be in relationship with anyone. If she was married, she couldn't have relations with her husband; if she was single, she couldn't be betrothed to someone. How can someone unclean have a relationship? If she had kids, she couldn't help raise them, couldn't hold them. She was unclean. She couldn't go to the Temple to worship; there wasn't a place for the unclean there. She probably had regular meetings with the priest to assess that, yup, she was still unclean. She couldn't go to the market. She couldn't prepare the food for others. She couldn't fetch water at the well while others were there.
This woman was totally isolated by virtue (or lack thereof) of being unclean. For twelve years.
And yet, everyone would have known her. Or, at least, known about her.
They would have known to stay away from her if they ever had a chance encounter. She would have been trained to shout out "Unclean" as she walked anywhere, just in case. But the persons around her already knew. She was a woman, strangely, who was not seen but who at the very same time couldn't not be seen.
What a way to live.
And then, we have this story.
We have this story of her showing up on a very crowded street. We have this story of her pushing through the crowds. We have this story of her bumping her way through a sea of persons, trying desperately to get to Jesus.
And...no one calls her out. No one screams. No one shouts, "unclean!" No one chides her, "Woman, you know better than to be here."
Even after she touches Jesus's garment and He turns around and says, "Who touched me?" no one seems to notice her. Not enough to call her out. The Gospels don't tell us that the crowd went into an uproar because she was an unclean woman. We aren't told that a whisper worked its way through the people about who she was and what she had just done to everyone in that crowd that she had pushed through. (In their understanding, she would have made them all unclean.) No one was grumbling. No one was accusing. No one was shaming. No one was even recognizing, it seems.
How does this happen?
How does a woman who couldn't not be seen get through a crowd totally unseen? How does a woman who has spent twelve years calling out push through a sea of persons and not be called out? How does the unclean woman make it all the way through all of these folks and all the way to Jesus without an uproar breaking out?
I have a theory....