Who touched me?

Remember in the old fairy tales when a young man sets out on his journey and then snubs the old, haggard beggar woman by the side of the road? We later discover the beggar had a secret identity and because the ‘hero’ was only focusing on himself and his great plan, he ignored her at his peril.

One of the wonderful things about Jesus is that no-one is too ugly, too old or too ‘insignificant’ are they?

You may recall that on the way to help Jairus’s daughter (who was very close to death), Jesus was delayed because a woman who was behind him in the huge, thronging crowd, touched his clothes. (Mark 5: 21-43). She believed that by doing this she would be cured of the chronic affliction she was suffering from. Her illness was an embarrassing and unpleasant one wasn’t it? Who wants to be admitting to something as personal as that in front of a crowd of people? She may have thought that Jesus was in such great demand that he wouldn’t have time for her, so she’d just get in as close as possible, undetected, and then as subtly and swiftly as possible, touch his garment. What she hadn’t reckoned on though, was the fact that Jesus did notice. He stops abruptly, ‘Who was it that touched me?’ The woman is terrified – she’s been caught in the act! She doesn’t want to admit it, but Jesus isn’t going to let the matter drop!

You would have thought that being on such an urgent mission to help a very sick little girl, Jesus would have just ‘let it go’ rather than halting in his tracks and demanding that the ‘culprit’ must reveal herself! How much time does this interaction take up (or ‘waste’ as I’m sure some of the disciples were probably thinking!). The woman was cured after all, and nobody needed to know anything about it, she could go home and live a normal life, a life no longer blighted by constant bleeding. Jesus would have got to Jairus’s daughter in time, before she died.

But Jesus demands to know: ‘Who touched me?’

The disciples, interestingly, haven’t seen her and think he’s gone a bit mad – the crowd is vast and jostling; it could have been anybody! But Jesus won’t be put off; he knows that someone in that crowd has not touched him by accident – this person is in fact desperate for his attention; she has been suffering for a very long time and needs more than just a ‘cure’, she needs to know that there is a God and this God cares very much indeed. Her life matters! He cares about each and every person – nobody has a greater priority over anyone else. Astonishingly, even a dying little girl did not have priority over a woman who had a chronic illness.

And yet, we know, don’t we, that the girl too was saved. Not only was she saved but raised from the dead! Of course he hadn’t forgotten her!

This story is multi-layered but the thing that really struck me was this: do not get side tracked by the so-called ‘mission’, it is not the end goal that matters but the individuals you come across along the way. This ‘mission’ can come in many forms. Perhaps you have started a new job and are trying to learn the ropes and do the best you can, or maybe you’ve been asked to represent your church at a special service or are involved with running an activity or fund-raising event of some kind. It could even be something really simple like you’re on your way to the supermarket or the dentist! You see someone ‘along the way’, someone who is in distress and needs some words of kindness – they need you to notice them, but you, in your haste and conviction that you’ve got to focus solely on the task you’ve set out to do, barely acknowledge them. But imagine if that was an opportunity to share the love of Christ to someone who needed it – someone who was perhaps desperate and at the end of their tether – someone longing to know that this world isn’t a pointless waste of time.

6 thoughts on “Who touched me?

  1. Jesus did not discriminate and if you have faith help will be at hand. Recently I have been very ill and kind words and prayers from Lucy and Naomi have touched my heart. The power of love is not to be underestimated and obviously Jesus loved the woman as much as the girl, the woman had amazing faith. Good blog, Dom.

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  2. I’ve always thought the woman was so brave to some forward and admit that it was her who touched him. I had an experience before my first confession when the idea was so repulsive to me I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to embrace it. Then I physically felt Grace come upon me on my heart like a door swinging open and I saw, I knew, that verbally confessing for a few minutes of uncomfortableness was insignificant to the joy of Jesus’ forgiveness and cleansing. Sometimes we listen to the lie that small thoughts or small acts by small people have no value when in reality the smallest things can have the biggest impacts on our souls.

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  3. Her fear and trembling, her humility, her courage and her joy. The model we should follow. She knew she was sick and she kept hope and was rewarded. How many times have I denied or ignored my sickness and those of others for convenience sake? How many times have I lost hope and given up on others? If you can’t help physically don’t forget the power of prayer! The Blessed Virgin Mary gave us the Angelic Psalter as a weapon in our hands. We can take it up and pray for the Church Militant, the Church Suffering and seek intercession from the Church Triumphant.

    I used to complain that the world moves so fast and that it’s impossible to be aware of others most of the time, the individual is prioritised over the community. That others are not considerate so why should I try to be?
    Then Jesus taught me a lesson I am still learning. I am not responsible for the world or it’s speed. I am responsible for myself and my pace. This fruit is much more flavourful and satisfying. All Christians have their ways of best serving humanity and God on the streets, in schools and work places and in communities using the 7 corporal works of mercy, the 7 spiritual works of mercy, the 3 essential good works and fulfilling the commandments whose end is charity.

    Another fruitful lesson God’s timing is better than our own and when he seems to be moving slowly or not at all to expect something greater than our limited imaginations. We are the instruments not the designer after all!

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  4. This passage is also precious because it draws us to the sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist, and Extreme Unction, sorrow for Sin, Bread of Life and healing of the sick and the Lord’s Prayer, the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from Evil. Beautiful.

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