In the Gospel on the 27th Sunday after Pentecost we hear an account of the healing of a woman who had been disabled, that is bent over and unable to stand erect, for 18 years. This healing illustrates for us the salvation that God has come to give to us. Just as this woman suffered and was crippled by a twisted and bent body, so also we are all crippled by a twisted and bent soul. The burden of our sins has weighed us down and though we may desire to reach up to God, it is not possible because our soul is bent so severely.
This woman had no ability to straighten herself or even to look up at another person, but Jesus seeing her condition came to her and spoke to her, raised her up by his word and blessed her with the laying on of His hands. He is the good shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep and when He sees one of His lambs caught in the trap of his sins, half dead and injured by the thorns of sin, He does not wait for the lamb to cry out for help, but makes the first move to come and free His lamb.
In this case, He spoke to the woman first, saying to her “Woman!” He did not say “Cripple” or “Monster” or “Sinner”, but rather “Woman”. With these words He reminds her that she is not merely some animal or some useless cast off, but she is a unique creation – a creation in the image of God. She is called not to look constantly at the dirt and dust of the world, but to look up to the heavens to search out the face of God. She is called not to be an outcast but rather to live in union and communion with God.
This is the same thing that our Lord offers to us. He does not come in wrath to punish us, but He comes as a loving and compassionate shepherd to rescue us from our crippled state.