Wednesday, August 12, 2009

28. THE HEALING TOUCH (MT 9:18-26)

“Nothing can come but that which God wills. And I feel very sure that whatsoever that may be, however bad it may appear, it shall indeed be the best
- St Thomas More

Matthew 9:18-26
While he was speaking to them, up came one of the officials, who bowed low in front of him and said, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and her life will be saved’. Jesus rose and, with his disciples, followed him. Then from behind him came a woman, who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years, and she touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I can only touch his cloak I shall be well again’. Jesus turned round and saw her; and he said to her, ‘Courage, my daughter, your faith has restored you to health’. And from that moment the woman was well again. When Jesus reached the official’s house and saw the flute-players, with the crowd making a commotion he said, ‘Get out of here; the little girl is not dead, she is asleep’. And they laughed at him. But when the people had been turned out he went inside and took the little girl by the hand; and she stood up. And the news spread all round the countryside.

CHRIST THE LORD Each of us puts our faith in someone. It may be a great teacher you once had, or your boss, or an effective leader, or it may simply be yourself. Human life is fragile, confusing, and brief – we naturally seek stability, which comes from putting one’s faith in someone. St. Matthew shows once again in this passage that Jesus alone is worthy of total faith.
We have already seen him heal a conscience by forgiving sins, calm a raging storm at sea, cure the sick and cast out devils… As if that weren’t enough, now he heals a disease that has persisted for twelve years to show that his power has no limits, and then raises a girl from the sleep of death to show that he is the Lord of life. This is the God who created you and knows your name, the Lord who gives his body and blood to be your saving food and drink. How worthy he is to receive the trust we all need to give!

CHRIST THE TEACHER St. Matthew emphasizes the role of faith in these miracles. The official kneels in front of Jesus – an act of homage and self-deprecation, an acknowledgment of his need and Jesus’ superiority and power. When the suffering woman touches him, it is her faith that reveals her presence to Jesus, and her faith that activates the cure.

Faith – belief in Jesus as Savior, trust in his goodness and omnipotence – unleashes the transforming power of God’s grace in our lives. God is not a Coke machine – we don’t pay the price of a few rote prayers and rituals, press a button, and get divine grace in exchange. God is a person; faith is our relationship with that person. We are created to know and love him and to share in his knowledge and love, but to do that we have to trust in him. We have to take him at his word, just as we have to do with anyone else we want to let into our lives.

CHRIST THE FRIEND St. Matthew shows us a Jesus who is utterly approachable. A sick woman is unafraid to fight through the crowds so she can reach out and touch the tassel on his cloak, and her confidence is rewarded with a miracle, a smile, and a tender, intimate word of encouragement. A synagogue official feels perfectly comfortable inviting Jesus into his house to resolve a tragic family crisis, and Jesus gladly complies, taking the little girl’s hand in his own and restoring her to life. This illustrates the message of the Incarnation. God is close to us; he is with us. He wants us to approach him – he wants us to open our hearts to him. If we are willing to accept the friendship of Christ, we never have to be alone.

Have I unwittingly put any limits on what I think you can do in my life? This sick woman had been suffering for twelve years. It must have seemed like an eternity for her. But she didn’t give up hope. Have I? You are my hope, Lord. I place my sufferings at your feet. Let me hear your words of encouragement; let me feel your saving power. With the joy of your heart, expand my heart…

I believe in You, Lord. I believe in your Catholic Church. I believe in love; I believe in your love. I trust in you – you know I do. But I want to trust more. I want to be as close and hope-giving to others as you are to me. Give me what I ask of you, Lord, and then ask what you will…

Lord, I know that no matter how bad things look, you are still at my side. I know that even when I can see only darkness with my reason, your light shines through my faith. Yet, in times of trouble, it is so hard to see your light. Lord Jesus, increase my faith. Teach me to see all things as you see them, and to see you in all things…

Yours in Christ, Father John Bartunek, LC


  1. Dear Father John,
    This sentence, "I know that even when I can see only darkness with my reason, your light shines through my faith," reminds me that even when I don't see anything but darkness in my life the light of God's love is there. And His love can and does shine through me as I pick up my cross and follow Christ. Sometimes it is tough to do so, but I must be diligent.
    Thank you for this good reflection.

  2. I have had this post up on my computer for hours now. I wanted to make a comment, then I decided, no, you have said it all and so well. I will just take it in. Thanks!


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