Experts claim that touching another person for at least five seconds is worth more than 300 words of encouragement. At the same time, they say that the sense of touch can hasten the healing process among people recuperating from illnesses and surgery. That is the power of touch that even the word “touch” itself is so powerful that it may be used in literal and figurative sense. We tell others to “keep in touch” to mean to stay connected, to make our relationships and bonds grow stronger. The same thing is true when we say we are “touched” by words or gestures of kindness as they strike deeper realities that connect us within. This explains why we always try to touch things literally because figuratively, every touch leads to bigger, inner realities that link us with persons and whatever they represent. That woman in today’s gospel suffering in hemorrhages believed that by touching even the clothes of Jesus could heal her. In fact, it was more than enough for her as it was the closest thing she could do to relate with Jesus who was always being followed by a vast crowd.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction (Mk.5:25,27-29)
What is so beautiful with this story that St. Mark had sandwiched with the healing of the daughter of Jairus is the sensitivity of Jesus with our touch: He felt power had left Him that He stopped to ask among the crowd “Who touched me?” Jesus is not contented with just being touched as He wants a more intimate relationship with us. Jesus wants more than touching us but even hugging us, embracing us to feel the warmth of His love and mercy for us. More than a touch, Jesus wants a personal connection – a relationship – with everyone. That is why when He went into the room of the dying daughter of Jairus, He tenderly addressed her with the words “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” It is a connection of far more significance as it leads to more fulfillment and freedom, a relationship filled with life.
Touching Jesus and being touched by Jesus is always a step into an intimate relationship with the Lord calling for faith in us. How sad that most often we stop at touching Him, like with what we always see inside churches where people touch all statues and images of Jesus, His Mother Mary and the saints. Yes it is an expression of faith but that faith needs to grow more into a relationship. How many would really stop to stay for an hour or half an hour or mere 15 minutes to be in touch with the Lord and be touched by the Lord? Can we lay bare ourselves openly to Jesus, allowing Him to touch those sensitive nerves inside us that make us seethe with anger or jealousy? Can we allow Jesus to touch our closely guarded secrets and hurts so we could finally confront the ghosts within us and remove blocks in our relationships with God and with others?
The author of the Book Wisdom had reflected how God had wanted since the beginning to keep in touch with us that He made us in His likeness, “the image of his own nature to be imperishable. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.”(Wis.2:23-24) Recently the whole nation was disturbed and rose in indignation when the man in Malacanang called “God stupid” after he had wrongly interpreted the story of the Fall in the Book of Genesis. There is no doubt his words were blasphemous but after all the noise, we must also start reflecting about our own faith and personal relationship with God whom we also blame for all the sufferings and miseries in the world. There are times during funeral Masses I felt tearing apart my clothes when I hear priests claiming the death of a beloved as “God’s will.” Three years ago, I wished having a laser sword so I could chop off the brainless head of a priest declaring it was “kalooban ng Diyos, tanggapin natin” the deaths of the two brothers of a priest who were peppered with Armalite bullets by a neighbor. Both their bodies were mangled by the Armalite bullets, the other cut into half and then the priest saying the crime was the will of God? My God… And that is how stupid some of us Christians are including some priests who believe that sufferings like cancer and dying in a freak accident are willed by God. Our first reading is very clear today, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” (Wis.1:13)
Let us be like St. Paul in the second reading who was definitely in touch with God and reality when he tried addressing the question of suffering with the Corinthians by encouraging them to share their wealth with those in need. St. Paul did not glorify suffering for its own sake nor did he encourage the Corinthians to seek suffering in this part of his second letter to the Corinthians. Instead, he tried explaining to them that suffering is part of the process of our inner transformation that leads to glory: “Not that others should have relief while you were burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.” (2Cor.8:13-14) If we truly touch God, He would touch us too, experiencing His love and mercy that in turn becomes natural for us to personally touch others with the loving service of Christ. In this age when our communications and interactions are mediated by gadgets and other things, may we bring back that personal touch of love and kindness with others. May God bless and touch you today and the whole week through! Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022
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