In today’s Gospel reading, we hear of two healing miracles. On His way to heal the daughter of the synagogue official, Jairus, Jesus encounters a woman who has been suffering from hemorrhages for many years. When the woman touches Jesus’ clothes, she is healed, and Jesus eventually blesses her and sends her on her way. When He comes to Jairus’ house, the people there inform Jairus that his daughter has already died. But Jesus raises her and presents her to those gathered around.
So I thought to myself, “Okay, I can do some nice reflection about trusting in God’s healing power and love. Maybe we can take a break from thinking about the turmoil and the divisions going on.” Except that another thought popped into my head. I hope it was from the Spirit.
When the woman with hemorrhages, believing that if she just touches Jesus’ clothes she will be healed, does touch His cloak, Jesus turns around, realizing “that power had gone out of him,” and says, “Who has touched my clothes?” The disciples are incredulous at the question: “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But the woman comes forth, and tells Jesus her story. Jesus is not irritated by the interruption. Instead, He reassures her, telling her, “Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
In these times, can we let others touch our lives? In our Gospel, Jesus does this twice. He responds to the pleas of Jairus for his daughter, and He responds to the woman, and both are healed. Those of us who are married and have children know what it’s like to let others touch our lives. Those who volunteer in helping others know what it’s like as well. And there are many other examples from our life experiences.
So the question may not so much be, are we willing to let others touch our lives and our hearts, but are we willing to expand the circle of who we let in? Are we willing, like Jesus, to listen to the story of the “other,” the ones who are different, the ones we have trouble understanding, the ones sometimes we even wish would just go away?
And now I’ll ask an even more outrageous question. If we were willing to let “them” touch our lives, could there be healing? I sure hope so. I know that I am not fully healed of prejudice and insensitivity. I know there have been times when I just didn’t want to be bothered. But listening to others has brought a lot of healing in my life, and I hope it has brought some healing to others as well.
Could we undertake a life project such as that? Could we be committed to letting ourselves be touched?? In our second reading from 2 Corinthians, St. Paul is talking about a collection for the church in Jerusalem (Is St. Paul the patron saint of development offices of non-profits?). What he says about that, I think, could also be said about this: “As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also. For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ…” While Jesus touched the lives of so many, and continues to do so, He also let Himself be touched by others, such as the Syro-Phoenician woman and the Roman centurion.
May we excel in the “gracious act” of listening to another’s story, of willing to be touched by the presence of the “other,” of loving as Jesus loves. And may the healing power of God in Jesus Christ flow from us into our hurting world.
Fr. Phil, CP