St Jerome’s Homily on Matthew 9:18-26 for the Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
Posted by Dim Bulb on November 1, 2012
I. This is the eighth miracle wrought by Jesus, when a certain ruler, desiring not to be kept out of the true circumcision, besought Him to recall his daughter to life. The ceremony of circumcision, which usually took place on the eighth day after the birth, seems to be indicated by this miracle. Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, certainly deserved the preference; but a woman, diseased with an issue of blood, thrust herself in, and her own cure occupies the eighth place, so that the resurrection of the ruler’s daughter is postponed, and made the ninth in the enumeration. Indeed, it seems that by this case our Saviour wished to call our attention to the vocation of the Gentiles; for we read in the Psalms: Ambassadors shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God (Ps 68:32). A great mystery, spoken of by the Apostle, saying: Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion He that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Rom 11:25-26).
II. And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment. Now, compare these two miracles in this Gospel: the first, a woman troubled with her disease for twelve years; the second, the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus who, according to St. Luke (Lk 8:42), was twelve years old; and you will come to the conclusion that the woman, a type of the Gentiles, had been diseased for the same time that the Jewish nation, typified by the ruler’s daughter, had been living in faith. It is only by comparing good with evil that is, idolatry that we see the hideousness of the latter. Note also that this woman with the issue of blood came to our Lord, not in a house nor in a city, for such as she were by the law banished out of cities (Lev 15:25), but in the way, as He walked. Thus our Lord healed one even whilst He was on the road to heal another. Whence the Apostles said: To you it behooved us first to speak the word of God; but because you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: I have set thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou mayest be for salvation unto the utmost parts of the earth (Acts 13:46-47).
III. According to the Law, whosoever touched a woman with an issue of blood was declared unclean. Here, how ever, we see a woman touch Jesus to be cured of that issue by which she seemed to be unclean. Be of good heart, daughter, said Jesus; thy faith hath made thee whole. Our Saviour calls her daughter, and justly, on account of her faith, by which she was cured. Note, again, our Lord did not say to the woman that her faith would make her whole that is, clean but thy faith hath made thee whole. It was to give her to understand that, as soon as she believed, she was cured. And when Jesus was come into the house of the ruler, and saw the minstrels and the multitude making a rout, He said. The deceased daughter of Jairus was the type of the Jewish nation, even now, after so many years, in a state of death. The Rabbis, entrusted with the instruction of that nation, may be compared to the minstrels playing a mournful and useless tune. The Jewish leaders, as we know, were only a noisy society of infidels, not of believers; and when Jesus said, Give place, for the girl is not dead, but sleepeth, He wished to teach us that every being, under the dominion of the living God, is alive. And when the multitude was put forth, He went in. Indeed, these people, laughing to scorn the One Who had power to give life, were not worthy to assist at the miraculous resurrection of this maiden.
IV. Finally, consider the last point of likeness between the Jewish nation and the ruler’s daughter who, being dead, received life. He took her by the hand. And the maid arose. And the fame thereof went abroad into all the country. The unbelieving synagogue, typified by this daughter, is dead; for her sinful hands are covered with the prophet’s blood shed by them and their fathers (Matt 23:29-36). To rise from that death her stained hands must be washed in the same innocent Blood of Jesus Christ, the Author of all life.