Any parent who has had a child that has been sick or near unto death, undoubtedly feels very miserable. Anything that will help heal the child will always be welcome. Even if that means taking risks.
In the Gospel for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mark 5:21-43) such a situation arose for Jairus, a synagogue official. Jesus was passing by, and Jairus heard many things about Jesus so he took a risk and asked Jesus to come to his house and heal his daughter.
While on the way over to Jairus’ house, Jesus and the group were met by a woman who had been hemorrhaging for some time. She also had heard about Jesus. Yet she was somewhat frightened about having direct contact and about having to explain her health situation to those present.
So, she decided to do what she thought best. Avoid personal contact with Jesus, but somehow make sure that there was some direct connection with him…so she touched his outer garment and was immediately healed.
The common belief in those days was that when there was some kind of “touching,” power was passed from one to another. Since the garment was touching Jesus, the lady thought that touching the garment was sufficient.
I suspect that Jesus wanted to publicize the occasion, so he asked, “Who touched me?” The lady became nervous and ultimately admitted that it was she who had done the touching. Jesus told her publicly, “Your faith has saved you.” This comment was made, most likely, for those present.
Meanwhile, people came from Jairus’ house to tell him that his daughter had died. There was no need for Jesus to go. But upon Jesus’ insistence the group went on to Jairus’ house. When the group arrived, Jesus entered the room where the twelve year old girl was in bed, and grabbed her by the hand. He said in Aramaic “Talitha koum” which means, “Little girl, I say to you arise.” And to demonstrate that the girl was not a phantom, she was given something to eat.
Now, what do we make of all this? It seems to me that the one dominant theme in this Gospel is the the healing touch of Jesus. The woman had the illness of a painful menstrual flow, but did not want to “broadcast” the issue to the crowd present around Jesus. Hence, she “touched” Jesus because of the belief that power comes from a person once there is touching. By way of the touching, the woman was healed.
Then there is the case of the little girl who died before Jesus could come and heal her. But Jesus took her by the hand and raised her from the dead. A death-life experience very mindful of Jesus’ own death and resurrection. The accounts of Lazarus (John 11:1-27) and the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17) were illustrations of Jesus’ power over the death-life experience.
For us personally, a major lesson stands out. Ultimately, it is the healing importance of touch. In the Gospel a woman touched Jesus and was healed. Another woman (little girt) was touched by Jesus and was brought to life. We are touched by Jesus when we receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). We touch others when we are compassionate, understanding, forgiving. Touching = healing.
We have the example of two women pointing out the importance of the healing power of touch. For that, I would say they merit a round of applause. So, let’s hear it for the ladies.