The Church and Contemporary Society: How close to Jesus???

“If I can but touch the even just the hem of his garments, I will be made well,” is what the woman was saying to herself. If I can only get close enough to Jesus. But there was a problem. Jesus was surrounded by a crowd of people. Forcing her way through the crowd was difficult. And, then there was another problem. If she came right out and asked Jesus to heal her, it could be embarrassing. He might ask why she wanted to be healed or what area needed to be healed. And she certainly did not want to talk about that in public. It was a self-esteem issue. She wanted to be healed by she didn’t want to bother the master. So carefully working her way through the crowd, closer and closer, little by little, she came near. Finally, sneaking up behind Jesus, she touched his garment making it as though she had just brushed against him in the crowd.

“Who touched me?” Even as the disciples were pointing out that with so many people, one was apt to be jostled, the woman felt two things: instant healing and instant shame. The bleeding that had been going on for the last twelve years (a veritable spring of blood, so says the Greek) stopped. She knew that she had to admit to Jesus that she had been healed. Why did she feel shame? Probably she knew what scripture said in Leviticus 15.28-30. It said that she was unclean. It also said that anything or anyone she touched was turned unclean, contaminated and corrupted by her touch. Remember when AIDS was first discovered? People wondered if it was all right to dine out, because maybe the silverware and the dishes could be contaminated. Of course it was, but knowing that intellectually did not help people emotionally. So the shame of it is this: in brushing against the hem of Jesus’ garment, which healed her, she had made her healer unclean, for she touched him. So she was probably fearful when Jesus called her out. She probably expected him to chastise her. But he did not. “Woman,” he said, “Your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

Sometimes I wonder how many people there are who are saying to themselves, “if I could only touch the hem of his garment I will be made well,” who are prevented by fear, prevented by shame, prevented because they have been really hurt by well-meaning but misguided Christians who, like the disciples tried to shield Jesus from those they deemed not worthy. God forbid that such a thing might ever be said of one of us. Far better we proclaim and demonstrated in love how Jesus touched us and healed us with his love and his grace.

I’m sure you can see the applications of this to several topics of controversy in society at large, so I will leave it for you to connect those dots . . .

Faithfully,

Canon Greg+

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About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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