Touching the Garment – God’s Healing Love

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages

for twelve years. She had endured much..., and she was no better. She

had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched

his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”

Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she

was healed of her disease. (See: Mark 5:21-43)

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

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 and sharing our humanity. He is the active presence of God’s reign among us. 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.

Think of the child who is hurt or the person who is in the last stages of terminal illness. The hurt and the illness are truly something that we want healed. But what is often most significant is often something more. The hurt child runs to her mother. Her mother cannot take away the cut or the bruise. But in her embrace of love, the pain is eased. The terminally ill person is surrounded by family and friends. They cannot take away the illness, but in their loving presence they can ease the pain, the fear and the sense of isolation.

The story told by Mark is a God-story. For twelve years ailing woman carried her illness. No one seemed able to help her. In her day, she was regarded as ritually impure because of the issue of blood. She was alone, isolated. As Mark relates the healing touch of Jesus we see the loving touch of God. This touch ever so light, reaches through the isolation and aloneness brought by the illness and reveals God’s healing, saving love. The woman is no longer isolated and alone in her illness.

It is this loving, healing touch, this inclusion that is part of God’s plan for our world, for all humanity. It is revealed in all the healing action of the Jesus, the incarnation of God among us. As the Body of Christ we are now that presence in our world, in our time. During this week, as we celebrate Canada Day, perhaps it is an occasion to ask ourselves how we express this healing touch to our world, as a community, as a nation.