I. I occasionally walk through St. Mary’s Cemetery, just across the street from where I live. Every time, I pause at my brother Georgie’s grave, my would-be eldest brother who died just after his first birthday. He’d now be 70 years old. That my parents had to bury their first-born baby boy still takes my breath away.
II. Because his twelve-year-old daughter’s life was at stake, a distraught, desperate synagogue leader, abandons his disdain for the renegade Jesus, and begs him for assistance: “Just come, and lay your hands on her.” Jesus’ touch is Jairus’ last, best, only hope.
At the same time, a woman with a twelve-year-old hemorrhage, rather than approach Jesus for his healing touch, takes it without asking. She presumed that Jesus wouldn’t dare touch her: after all, she hadn’t been touched for twelve years. Blood was life: a sacred, precious, dangerous force. A bleeding woman was a dying woman: neither she nor a dead girl could be touched because they were impure, unclean.
III. These stories were written decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, when the earthly Jesus could no longer be touched. Our brother and sister Christians left this witness to assure us that whenever we hemorrhage, however life is drained from us—in sickness, anxiety, sadness, or despair—Jesus still touches and heals. The Christian community who passed on their story knew the presence of Jesus in their communion. They knew that human touch which communicates divine care and inclusion heals. In communion and sacrament, we touch the divine, something rarely achieved in isolation. While this human touch doesn’t always end our pain, it ends our loneliness.
Perennially, we look for relief in so many people, places, and things. Here and now, Jesus comes and lays his hands on us, and says, “Little girl, little lamb, get up.” Jesus’ touch is our last, our best, our only hope.