27th June, 2021

 

Woman touches the robe of Jesus - painting

Homily for the 13th Sunday on Ordinary Time, Year B

Today’s Gospel – as usual – wants to tell us something very interesting about our faith and our relationship with Jesus, inviting us – at the same time – to deepen both of them. We just heard two very moving stories and two things that can be of great help in our getting to know Jesus: the first thing is that we can touch Jesus, and the second thing is that He not only can, but also wants to touch each of us. As we can guess, it is not just about some physical touch, because we who have never met Jesus personally – as the Apostles or other people did – we would have no chance to experience what the two women, the main heroes of today’s gospel did.

The first scene tells us about the healing of a woman suffering from a haemorrhage. As we heard, at some point in his journey to the house of Jairus, Jesus felt something unusual, and this unusual and strange feeling prompted him to ask his Apostles the following question: Who touched my clothes? The Apostles – as we’ve heard – answered this question by stating one very obvious fact: You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say: Who touched me? It seems to me that, just like in those days, also today many modern people see and treat Jesus in the same or similar way: as a star or celebrity, as a famous footballer, basketball player or artist. Moreover, it seems to me that if Jesus were to come to Kettering or any other town today, the reaction of many people and many of us would be very similar. Perhaps many would like to see him, many would like to witness any spectacular miracle of healing, take a selfie with Him or have an autograph from Him. I suspect that many would like to touch Him only to be able to brag to others and say: I really saw Him with my own eyes! It was really Him! I think we can easily imagine this Gospel scene and the great crowd following him, especially since they knew that he was going to heal the daughter of someone who was an important figure in this Jewish community. So, they probably expected something sensational or just something to satisfy their curiosity. But – as we heard – there was one woman in the crowd who touched Him in such a way that the power had gone out from him. And it was a completely different, spiritual touch, and Jesus explains to us the essence of this particular touch when He says: My daughter, your faith has restored you to health, go in peace, and be free from your complaint. Yes, it was her faith that has restored her health… Everyone touched Jesus for various reasons, we don’t know why, maybe out of curiosity, maybe to show off to others, but we can guess that what was most important was missing there. There was no faith in the attitude of all those people. Only this one woman touched Jesus with faith, and that is why she was rewarded. Jesus wants to tell us that each of us can touch Him through our faith. And – like this woman – each of us can experience a similar healing and miracle in our lives, not only when we suffer from a haemorrhage or when we are infected with the virus, but also from our loneliness, depression, addictions or in our daily struggles against evil.

In the same Gospel – a little further – we also heard about a slightly different kind of touch, and this second kind of touch is about death. Let us see that if someone is dying or has already died, he or she is no longer able to approach Jesus to personally ask him for help or any miracle of healing. That’s exactly what happened in today’s gospel, that little girl couldn’t get up, she couldn’t go to Jesus and say: Please come and heal me, I beg you please restore my health, because she was unconscious and then because she died. In this case, it was her family – and specifically her father – who asked Jesus for help. I think this second Gospel scene wants to encourage us to a greater love and a greater care for those who have passed away. Like Jairus, we too can ask Jesus to touch our departed loved ones. This Gospel tells us very clearly that Jesus can touch those who have died and He wants to do so through our persistent prayers. Very often when you come to Mass, you can hear the Mass intention when I announce at the beginning: Today we are praying for the souls in Purgatory, or for any specific person who has passed away. Let us see that sometimes we may encounter people who try to discourage us from this prayer by saying: It doesn’t make senses, as it was in today’s gospel when people said to Jairus: Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble? This particular Gospel tells us something completely different! Ask anyway. Ask Jesus to touch those who have passed away, those who cannot ask themselves, but we can ask for them, we can ask in their name. It is our Christian duty but also our privilege to pray for all our departed brothers and sisters, for all those we knew, for all those we still remember and love. And this is the kind of touch of Jesus that we can provoke. On the one hand, in all these difficult situations, when we ourselves experience various sufferings and struggles, and on the other hand, when someone has passed away and cannot ask for Jesus’ touch, but we can ask on behalf of him. I think it is worth asking that we too could experience or provoke these two miraculous and healing touches of Jesus’ love, for ourselves and also for our loved ones.

Fr Gregory