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That Healing Touch

That Healing Touch

Monday, March 24, 2014 – Week of 3 Lent, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 80 (morning) // 77, (79) (evening)

Genesis 44:18-34

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Mark 5:21-43

There are tremendous differences between the health care delivery systems of ancient Israel and of modern-day America. Nevertheless, the two systems have their parallels. In today’s gospel, a woman suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years has sought healing from a system that bankrupted her and that made her worse, not better. Similarly, health care in modern America is extremely expensive, especially relative to our poor health outcomes on a broad scale.

The ancient, Biblical alternative to a costly and ineffective system is fairly simple: just get the touch of Jesus. The woman works her way through a crowd to reach him, saying to herself, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Likewise, a synagogue leader named Jairus whose daughter is near death asks Jesus, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”

The powerful touch of Jesus works in both cases. The woman merely touches Jesus’ cloak, and Jesus’ power travels right through his clothes and into the woman’s body to heal her immediately. And when Jesus takes Jairus’ daughter by the hand, she springs back to life after everyone thought that she was dead.

If own medical system and that of ancient Israel have similar ailments, might they also have a similar cure? What would the touch of Jesus feel like in our own search for health and healing? I know that our health system and its potential reforms are extremely complex. In fact, I’ve spent the past four months sorting through conflicting information about how to comply legally and ethically with the Affordable Care Act.

However, I believe that there is one crucial dimension of Jesus’ healing touch in today’s gospel that we must grasp in our own day: Jesus’ touch was available to all. It was available to the chronically ill and impoverished woman rendered untouchable by her culture’s codes of purity, and it was available to the privileged daughter covered under her prominent father’s plan.

As members of the body of Christ, we understand how the health and healing and wholeness of one member affects all of the other members. This insight about the interrelatedness of human beings is a tremendous gift that the church can bring to other bodies, from the social body, to the human family, to the natural world. We belong to one another, and the salvation of the whole is bound up with the health of each part.

When Jesus offers a healing touch, he makes it available to the whole world. Let’s fight our way through the crowds to claim it.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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