Touching the Hem of the Garment

THE NEW TESTAMENT stories of the woman with the hemorrhage (Matthew 9:20-22), the man by the healing pool (John 5:1-15), and the paralytic whose friends carry him to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12) seem right for our needs today--especially for our need of healing and our need to be healers. We want to share some reflections on these passages and invite you into some experiences concerning the healing of each other in our personal lives as well as in the life of our communities, our neighborhoods, and our nation.

We are convinced that the healing power that we see in Jesus Christ and that was promised to his kingdom people is a power that moves beyond the reach of our personal, individual lives. Rather, we see the healing of our personal lives and the healing of our diseased communities coming from one source, from one power.

But let us begin with the personal, because this is where the stories take us: to the woman in the crowd, to the man by the healing waters, and to the friends breaking through the roof on behalf of their paralyzed companion. These are some of the most powerful examples of the healing ministry of Jesus. And they bring into our presence again some people like you and me, people who were in great need, people who came to Jesus in great faith.

I want to start with the marvelous unnamed woman who appears in each of the synoptic gospels. What a story she carries! Suffering from internal bleeding for a dozen years, she exhausted her resources seeking help from doctors who felt totally incapable of helping her. Indeed, we are told that her condition had actually worsened. But her spirit was not broken. She had refused to give up the vision of her healing.

And then the word of Jesus reached her. For some reason she may not have been able to explain, she was certain deep within her heart, that this teacher, this healer from Galilee was important to her. She very much needed to meet this person.

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