The Woman Who Touched Jesus
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 27, 2021
“If I but touch his clothes, I will be cured.”
The hemophiliac woman in our gospel this Sunday (Mark 5:21-41) was on a mission—to touch Jesus! “If only I can touch him I will be cured.” Jesus is surrounded by a large crowd as he presses forward. People are all around him. Many have heard him speak; others have seen him, or brushed up against him in this crowd. But only this particular woman receives a healing—only her touch gets Jesus’ attention - and she hears what she has longed for: “My daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.” What has she done to be singled out in this way? How can we gain Jesus’ attention?
This gospel is a mirror image of our world. Jesus is passing right by us, all the time, and like so many in the crowd, we do not recognize who is speaking. We hear and see Jesus but do not connect with him. When the gospel is read at Mass, it is Jesus who speaks, and yet have our hearts been moved to conversion? When we receive communion, it is Jesus who passes into and through our body and soul; we touch him, and yet do we realize who we have received and the power he has to offer? This poor woman, who has been to every physician until her savings was depleted, comes at last to the Divine Physician. Did her desperation drive her to go to such lengths? For she has touched him with her faith, and so she is the only one, out of an enormous crowd, that Jesus singles out to speak directly to her, to look her in the eye.
This woman sneaks up on Jesus. Somehow she manages to get close to him, even in this crowd which presses around. She wishes to be anonymous—just another face in the crowd… just a touch is all she needs. And she does touch him. But Jesus immediately wheels around to confront her: “Who touched me?”
“You can see how many are pressing in around you,” the disciples exclaim, “and yet you are asking ‘Who touched me?’” In our world, so many people are searching for answers, for healing, for meaning in life. Meanwhile, Jesus continues to pass through the crowds, passing through each generation, if only we could recognize him. Faith is the key that unlocks the Scriptures, that unlocks the meaning of our lives. How do we get the attention of Jesus? By reaching out to him in faith. Faith is the key—it unlocks every hidden door. Christ cannot resist this approach.
Faith is a gift. Jesus hides himself in many places, so that we might seek him in faith—especially in the Eucharist, but also in the people we encounter, the Scriptures, the Church, the daily circumstances of our lives. A simple act of faith, a simple prayer, and Jesus will be speaking and looking directly at you.