1 July 2018
Wisdom 1.13-15, 2.23-24
2 Cor 8.7-9,13-15
One day a young man decided to visit his old aunt who he hadn’t visited for a number of years. He spent some hours with her and listened to her as she told him many things about her life. Since she had very few visitors she was delighted with the visit of her nephew especially after such a long time. As he left and promised to visit again fairly soon, she said: ‘I have been really touched by your kindness and your visit to me when I am sure you had many other younger friends to be with’.
In the gospel today we hear about a woman who suffered physically for 12 years and she was determined to get close to Jesus in order to touch even his clothes, as she believed she would be healed. Can you imagine her determination as she had to push her way through all the others in the crowd also seeking to get close to Jesus? But her need was so great that she succeeded. Perhaps it shows to us the importance of touch in our lives, not only physically but on other levels as well. In our opening story the aunt was touched emotionally by the visit of her nephew. People who are bereaved can be very touched by the concern, sympathy and love of those who support them in their time of grief. St. Paul would say that the life and death of others have an influence on us. Of course our lives can be touched for the worse too if people do bad things to us. And being touched emotionally, psychologically or physically may affect us powerfully for good or for worse.
How then do we allow others to touch or affect our lives? Can others say that their lives have been influenced for the better by our ways of touching them? The Good News is that Jesus came to touch our lives for the better. There are so many instances in the gospels when he touched the lives of others powerfully – the woman taken in adultery whose life was saved by him being there for her when she could have been stoned to death Then there was the man regarded as a great sinner, Zaccheus, whom Jesus went to visit and eat with, thereby shocking the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day
We recall all those he healed and welcomed, those too whom he challenged to grow in their relationships with God ad others like the rich young man who failed to respond to his invitation. Our God is a God who wishes to touch our lives for the better all the time. He is not a God who is out to punish us or condemn us if we fail to respond. Who apart from Mary our Mother has never sinned. I trust in the mercy of a God who continually touches my life inviting me to grow, to seek life and not death.
In the gospel the woman touched only the clothes of Jesus and was healed. How much more those of us who receive Holy Communion or make a spiritual communion with Jesus in prayer. Also those who celebrate the sacraments as encounters with the Risen Jesus allow themselves to be touched by Jesus powerfully. When my father was dying the nurse suggested that my father see the chaplain and receive the sacrament of the sick. He agreed. Later he told me that as soon as the priest anointed him with the Oil of the Sick he felt that he had been healed just like the woman in the gospel today. But Jesus does say to the woman in today’s reading. ‘Your faith has restored you to health. Go in peace and be free from your complaint’.
Finally we can see the sensitivity of Jesus. Here is all this crowd pushing around him, pushing him too and trying to touch him and in spite of all he is aware of the physical touch of the woman seeking healing and is obviously himself touched by her faith in him.
It seems then it is up to us to. Do we invite Jesus to touch our lives in the areas where we are unfree, where we need healing? Do we allow God to touch us through others? Do we allow God to touch others through us?
At communion time in the Eucharist, we pray ‘Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed’ Do I really pray that the Lord would heal me, touch me? Do I have an area of my life in mind – physical, emotional, relational? And do I give the Lord the freedom to heal me, to touch me as and when and how he knows best? Or is a routine prayer for me?
‘Lord Jesus, we praise you for all the many ways in which you touch and heal our lives mostly through others and the events of our lives. Help us to be more aware of these so as to realise how much you are at work in our lives, only seeking what is best for us and enabling us to have a deeper joy and peace. Open our hearts and minds to receive all the many ways you want to heal and touch us and others Amen.’
Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA