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The Power of Touch

P. Félix Jiménez Tutor, escolapio.....

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A man was not feeling very well, so he decided to go to a doctor. While he was waiting in the doctor’s reception room, a nun came out of the doctor’s office. She looked very pale, tired and exhausted. The man went into the doctor’s office and said to the doctor: “I just saw a nun leaving who looked absolutely terrible. I have never seen a woman look worse”

The doctor said: “I just told her that she is pregnant”. The man explained: “Oh my, is she?” The doctor responded. “No, but it sure cured her hiccups”.

Years ago I heard a lecture from a physician who described his ritual of touching patients during his examination -pulling down the eyelids, looking at the tongue, listening to the heart…He would do this every time he saw his patient. He described a particular patient who was on his deathbed. There was nothing more that could be done. An examination was not medically necessary. He went to see this patient on what would be his last day on earth. When the patient saw his doctor he began to unbutton his pajamas wanting to be seen, touched, acknowledged; wanting to be reminded that he was real and that he mattered; wanting to be made well even though he could not be cured. That’s the power of touch. Touch has the power to make well.

Here, at the heart of Mark’s story within a story we find the point he wants to make.

Both the girl and the woman are ritually unclean, they are untouchable, but Jesus doesn’t flinch from it.

In fact, the element of human touch -something you would never do to an unclean person- plays a big role in both of these stories.

The woman touches Jesus’ clothing and Jesus takes the girl’s hand.

They have something in common, they are both unclean and they share the number 12.

The barrier between clean and unclean is broken by a simple touch. Both touches should have made Jesus unclean, but instead, he makes them clean.

The woman who approaches Jesus is anonymous, no name, she is poor, she has spent all she had on doctors and treatments that did her no good, and had been excluded from her community for 12 years.

One Sunday, Jesus was suddenly within arm’s reach and she took her opportunity to steal just a little power from him. Who will know? She thought.

Who touched my clothes? Jesus asked. Who hasn’t? The apostles replied.

But the woman knows she has been caught and this is where the story gets interesting and teaches all of us, who are physically or spiritually sick, a much needed lesson.

She fell at the feet of Jesus, and told him the whole truth. Jesus called hers “daughter” and sent her away in peace, confirming her faith.

Jesus always distinguishes the touch of faith from the touch of a curious admirer.

Jairus is rich and powerful, but he humbles himself, falling to Jesus’ feet, exposing an openness that may have surprised those around him.

He wants Jesus to come and lay hands on his daughter, to touch her so that she may be made well and live.

Jesus took the child by the hand and said to her “little girl”, "I say to you, “arise”.

The Gospels are full of stories about Jesus touching others and being touched by others.

The divine touch happens in a thousand different ways.

What if these stories about the divine touch are not unique or exclusive to Jesus?

The divine touch happens every time we reach out to another with kindness, when we offer hospitality and welcome, when we forgive or offer our precious time.

Saint Teresa of Avila wrote a beautiful prayer worth knowing by heart and praying.

Christ has no body on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassionately on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Christ has no body on earth but yours.

We, not only belong to God, we are his body on this earth.