The image here on the cover of the bulletin is a reproduction of Daniel Cariola’s “The Encounter,” which is a triptych (image painted on three side-by-side panels) behind the Duc in Altum chapel at the Christian visitor’s center in Magdala (hometown of Mary Magdalene). The large feet of the men in the crowd seem to dwarf the hemorrhagic woman, and the image coveys the smallness that she feels. I can only imagine her desperation as she is nearly trampled by the crowd. She will go to any lengths to encounter Jesus.
This image hangs in my office. I reference it often when I am counseling women who bear deep wounds because of past abuse, assault, or betrayal. I point it out when someone claims that the road to union with Christ and his Church is too difficult. It becomes a source of motivation for those who are spiritually bleeding because they have wandered astray and have remained for a long time far from the embrace of Holy Mother Church. If the hemorrhagic woman in her own weakness could crawl to Christ, what lengths will we not go to encounter Jesus?
Two things strike me about this image insofar as it doesn’t show the whole scene. First, the image focusses on the woman’s hand. Her hand is almost exactly like the hand of Adam in the creation of Adam image painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. By her perseverance, her encounter with Jesus causes her to be recreated. That is what Jesus does for us whenever we encounter him and his graces; we are recreated. Secondly, the image leaves out her face. That hand could belong to any one of us. In fact, each one of us will encounter at least once in our lifetime (probably many more times!) periods in which God permits us to do all the work. This is many times described as dryness in the spiritual life. However, when we finally reach that encounter which we have strived so hard to attain, we recognize that God has elevated our efforts to establish within us the most firmly grounded habits and virtues.