Diocese of Brooklyn
Several months ago my doctor recommended that I get into an exercise routine that would be age appropriate. I guess that was a polite way of saying that I had to find some way to exercise that I would be able to continue even after the knees and ankles and elbows started creaking. His recommendation was swimming – an exercise I never learned because in the neighborhood where I grew up “swimming” was either jumping the waves at Rockaway Playland (if you could afford the double train fare) or hoping someone’s father could open the fire hydrant. Nonetheless, how difficult could it be to learn as adult? As I began learning to swim, I began also to realize that it can be a great workout – using muscles that had not been used for a long time. My teacher recommended adding gym exercises to build up those same muscles which brought some added power but also some added pain which bring us to the point of telling this story. My trainer’s suggestion was to get an occasional massage after a workout. Prior to this, I had only had a massage once on vacation – it was very calm and relaxing as I presumed the after-workout massage would be. I was in for quite a surprise. The massage therapist worked muscles and sinews in ways that used touch to bring about healing.
In the Gospel today, the author makes sure we know the situation is almost claustrophobic. We can imagine Christ walking through this crowd of people all pushing and shoving one another as they tried to get close enough to touch Him. The apostles could only have been bewildered as people came at them from every direction with the sick on mats reaching out for His cloak – for just a touch, His touch, His healing touch. To this crowd, Jesus was not just a celebrity or magic man; He was hope but for their hope to be realized they had to get close, close enough to touch even a tassel.
Today’s Scripture invites us to acknowledge our own need for healing – how fitting that the liturgy opens with a penitential rite – and Christ’s power to heal. The process of humbly reaching out to touch and be touched might involve some pain as egos are bruised and bad habits challenged but in the end Christ’s love will heal all hurt.