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Pastor's Column

The Woman Who Touched Jesus

Pastor’s Column

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 30, 2024

Image of Jesus and the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Created by AI Copilot)

In this Sunday’s gospel (Mark 5:21-43), Mark with his usual vivid eyewitness-like detail gives us a story within a story: the healing of Jairus’ daughter and that of the hemophiliac woman. She was once a wealthy woman, having spent all she had on doctor visits that brought no cure, but only poverty.  

          The question is, why is she sneaking around? Jesus is walking along, being mobbed as usual by endless crowds. He must have had many verbal requests for healing that are not recorded. Why not just ask Jesus? But this woman has a problem: her condition has rendered her continually ritually impure. Everyone she touches or who touches her would have been made impure because of this bleeding. Perhaps many in the crowd knew this. She does not wish to break the law nor to be seen doing so by deliberately touching Jesus, and she is probably humiliated as well, so she devises a plan. She will simply sneak up and touch the small tassel at the end of his garment.

           See how much faith she has! When we had the great faith healer, Sister Briege McKenna, here for a mission some years ago, many came from several states. Sister broke with her usual protocol and made the decision not to physically touch anybody individually but had everybody put their request for healing in a jar under the altar and she would pray over that. And from my seat I could see that immediately some people got up and walked out. They would only accept having individual service. Apparently, they had no faith in her prayers if they were only over a jar with many other requests! And many were healed that way at this mission but not those that walked out.

          Jesus of course finds out and calls to her, not to humiliate but to commend her for faith! There’s a great lesson for us in the story. Jesus is willing to be made ritually impure for our sake. Our sins, he is willing to take on for us if only we touch him, particularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Of course we have to know that we’re sick, that we have sins. We have to know to ask. 

          These days many in the world call sin good and relish in it. These types would never come to Jesus for healing. We must first know ourselves and sometimes that can mean useless chasing after endless cures that don’t really work to heal our soul. But Jesus wishes to take everything on himself. That’s why he died on the cross the way he did, to show us how much he loves us, but also to bear the cost of our sins, not just those of his time but of all time, to bear the sins of those who have the courage to reach out and touch him. We touch him at Mass when we receive him in the Eucharist, in adoration, in our service and kindness to others, and in confession. In all these ways, in disguise, Jesus waits for us to touch him in faith and be healed and forgiven.  

Father Gary


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