Reach Out and Touch
In both healings described in the Gospel for this weekend, Jesus breaks taboos of his society in order to give a young girl and a bleeding woman new life. He acknowledges the power of touch. His touch brings a young girl back to life in the presence of her parents. He gives a new life, freedom from intense suffering, to a woman who dared to reach out and boldly touch his garment.
Who are the parents among us who are experiencing the “death” of their children? Yes, some are physical deaths. So many others are what feels like death in that parents feel that they have lost their children to so many realities that threaten the fullness of life—drug use, self-mutilation, mental illness, loss of faith, abusive relationships, and other afflictions that literally seem to take the “life” out of their children. Like Jairus, they cry out for restoration to life, to at least some semblance of the kind of life they want for their children. They pray for God’s love and compassion to make their loved ones feel alive again.
And who are the women who bleed, who hemorrhage today? What are their long-time afflictions, the things that keep them from being the “whole” women they aspire to be? For some, it is sexual abuse often at the hands of a relative at a very young age, human trafficking of very young women, on-going wage and compensation inequalities (equal pay for equal work), double standards regarding physical appearance, the impenetrability of the “glass ceiling,” body shaming, eating disorders, and other kinds of long-term suffering. These women, too, are longing for healing, for a feeling of being whole again, for becoming a new creation through God’s love and compassion.
How will we respond to the readings for this weekend? Jesus is with us, in us, and works through us in this Body of Christ—our families, our communities, our Church. How will we ask for healing? What garments exist that we can reach out and touch? What can we bring to life?
Jesus has given us through baptism an even greater power than his. We can be healers. We can be instruments or garments of healing. May it be so! Lord, hear our cry and move us to action!