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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ The Touch of God’s Healing, Life-giving Love

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from

hemorrhages for twelve years…..  ‘If I can touch even his

clothes,…I shall be well again.’ ‘Your daughter is dead:

Why put the Master to any further trouble?...

                          And taking the child by the hand he said to her, Talitha,

kum! Which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ 

The little girl got up at once and began to walk about. 

(Mark 5:21-43, passim)

 

A few days ago, I experienced two common and seemingly unrelated events.  They may not have seemed alike in any way, but they were.  The first was simply noticing a young couple walking along on the street, holding hands.  The other, was the anointing of a man in the hospital with the oil of the sick.  Each of these events seemed quite different from the other, except that there were several commonalities that the events shared.  Each event involved one person touching of another.  And both of them were in fact an expression of love and the bond between persons.

               

The young couple, in holding hands expressed the love that they shared with one another and they revealed it in the simple gesture they took.  The anointing of the person in the hospital was also an expression of love shared by the Christian community through the sacrament.  At the same time, the anointing revealed the shared faith that ties the whole community together and that calls us to reach out to a person in need of our loving support.


Mark’s Gospel often presents us with the healing Jesus. In the very poignant account of a woman who had suffered for years, we discover the loving touch of God that Jesus brings.  He is present to her.  Having heard of Jesus, she was unable to get close to him, but thought: “If I but touch his clothes.”  What faith!


The same loving and healing presence is revealed in the second story related by Mark.  The sick child has brought desperate parents to seek out Jesus.  We might be tempted to see Jesus as a wonder-worker in the story.  But what is more wonderful perhaps is that Jesus went out of his way to be present to both the child and her parents.  As Mark relates it, Jesus says: “The child is not dead, but sleeping.”


The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus as he heals people.  What is this all about?  The temptation is to see Jesus as a wonder-worker, a miracle-maker, someone who suspends the rules of the natural order in order to heal.  To be sure there may be some instances of physical healing.  But if we stop there, we miss the real point of these accounts.


Jesus is the incarnate presence of God – God who is present to us, sharing our humanity.  To say this is to say that Jesus reveals the love in which God holds each and every one of us in humanity.  He is the touch of God’s love for us all.  When we stand with another in the midst of suffering, difficult times and challenging wounds personally, communally and globally, we express the incarnation.  We speak God’s love.  We do not seek miracles we seek expressions of God’s love, that is always with us.

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