The Healings at Gennesaret
Dr. Paul Brand shared a story of a young man he treated for leprosy in India. Dr. Brand laid his hand on the shoulder of the leper as he tried to explain through an interpreter the course of treatment when suddenly the man cried. Dr. Brand was wondering whether he said something wrong. The interpreter told the doctor that the patient was crying because he touched him. Until that moment, nobody has touched him for many years.
The gospel often portrays Jesus as the one who would reach out and touch the sick and the sinner. And also people seek to touch Jesus just like today’s gospel. They beg Jesus even to touch the tassel of His cloak. This miracle healing through touching is an echo of an earlier healing of the woman with the hemorrhage who was able to touch Jesus’ clothes and immediately experience healing (Mark 5:25-29). And wonder of all wonders, many of them are healed when they touch it.
Jesus, through touch, wants the sick person to know that he/she is remembered and specially loved by God. That he/she is not alone.
You know the power of touch is one of the most powerful forms of communication. Take a moment of reflection of this story of one the nieces told by Roger Schutz, director of Taize, the world famous ecumenical monastery in France.
His niece had grown up in the country of Zaire in Africa and had an African playmate of her age. Her playmate, a boy, was an orphan and was very lonely. He had built himself a little shack leaning against the high stone wall that separated the backyard of the girl’s home from the open field where the little boy played. There was no door or gate in the garden wall, so the little girl could not see the orphan boy on the other side. But she found a hole in the wall and used it to put her hand through it and hold the little boy’s hand.
The two children never ever saw one another. They could not speak to one another because they did not know one another’s language. And yet, they comforted each other by holding hands
But of course prayer is the most powerful means to touch and heal a sick person, not only in terms of physical healing but also a spiritual one. Like for example, a priest said in his homily, that most medical doctors nowadays are of the opinion that taking medicine is not the only way to heal one’s sickness. There takes place unexplainable healing in sick people who dare to pray and submit themselves to anointing and laying on of hands in the sacrament of anointing. No wonder then that Healing Masses, healing sessions and intercessory prayers for healing are so popular in our times.
Schultz continued to say that there are times in life when words fall flat, but our sense of touch speaks volumes. Take the baby cuddled in the nest of his mother’s arms. Take a nurse’s soothing hand on our fevered brow. Take an encouraging pat on the back or a comforting hand on our shoulder. And so how do we use our own power of touch so that we might share to others God’s gift of touch?
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