In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus heals a woman who was bleeding and raises the daughter of Jairus. No less than three times does the text refer to the power of touch as facilitating these moments taking place. Jairus asked Jesus to lay his hands on his daughter. When he met the little girl, the Lord took her by the hand and raised her up. In the case of the woman suffering from a haemorrhage, she was cured after she had touched his clothes and when ‘power came out of him’. Jesus then commended the woman for touching him and praises it as an act of faith.
Christianity is a spiritual religion but at the heart of it is the incarnation – that God communicated himself through the human and the real. As we see from the Gospel, divine power and healing flow through human interaction and touch. The spiritual sense of touch is a symbol for our closeness to the Divine, the feeling of being embraced by God and of belonging to Him. As Lord Tennyson once wrote: “Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.” For St Leo the Great, these moments of God’s touch that facilitate healing are included in the sacraments for ‘what was visible in our Saviour has passed over into his mysteries’. In them we are touched, held, blessed, anointed and fed. Today’s Gospel is an opportunity to appreciate the power of appropriate touch and real human interaction through which flows the healing power of God – our God who became human so that we might become divine.
Fr Billy Swan