homily – June 28

Mark 5: 21-43

In today’s gospel we hear of two wonderful works of love and mercy on the part of Jesus; curing the woman who suffered poor health for years and the raising a young girl to life. Both these wonders involved touching. “If I but touch his clothes I will be made well” and “Jesus took her by the hand and said, little girl get up.”

I’d like to focus on the raising the young girl to life. In a society that valued men over women and sons over daughters this father’s concern for his daughter’s well being is remarkable. Maybe she was his only child. He was a person of importance yet in desperation he falls at the feet of Jesus and begs, pesters Jesus to come to his home and just touch his daughter and make her well again.

Have you ever been to a wake and sense that the grieving in the room is almost tangible? The grief, the sorrow, the mourning, the hurt is so intense. You’d give anything to be able to change things, turn things around, you wish you could go to the casket and say “get up, be well” and restore that dead person to his/her family. You know that’s not possible but you wish it were.

Have you thought about what a tragedy it is that so often we wait until someone dies to appreciate how much they meant to us, what good people they were, what good things they did in life? Have you ever grieved over the fact that you put off visiting them while they were ill and confined to home or hospital? A sudden death is like that thief in the night who robs us of one last chance to say to someone we love; ‘I love you, thank you, I’m sorry, I understand.’ Have you ever wanted to turn back the clock for a day, an hour, even a minute just for that one last chance to say and do the things you wished you’d said and done?

As I mentioned these two wonders in today’s gospel are about touching and being touched. We touch people in so many ways; by our words, by our actions, by our attitudes.

A lesson we can learn from today’s gospel is that every day of life we are offered an opportunity to be sources of life and love and healing to family, friend and stranger as we reach out to touch them by a kind word, an understanding word, a forgiving word, an encouraging word. St. Paul tells us, “say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them.” Every day we can speak kind and encouraging words that help people endure the pain of depression and alienation. Every day we say words of gratitude to seniors, letting them know their lives were worthwhile, their lives made a difference. Every day we can speak words of encouragement to young people unsure of their possibilities, their future. Every day we can speak words of comfort and consolation and ease the anxiety of those who are ill and frightened. Every day we can speak words of peace and apology that placate and calm the anger in others. Every day we can speak words of consolation to those who mourn the loss of someone they loved.

Every day we can reach out and touch, heal and enliven others as we put aside our prejudices or narrow mindedness towards good people of other cultures, faiths or lifestyles and come to treat them with respect, realizing Christ died for them as much as He died for us. Everyday we can reach out and touch and heal and enliven men and women less fortunate than ourselves, who struggle to survive on welfare checks and food banks as we try to understand what it must be like to live under their circumstances.

We hear much about the culture of death and the culture of life. As followers of the healing, loving, life giving Christ we try to foster a culture of life within ourselves, being sensitive to all those occasions when we can be sources of healing, life and love to others.

Jesus said “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” His ministry was all about preaching the good news of God’s love for all of us and calling people out of selfishness and sin into the new life of grace and love.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that however and whenever we touch other people’s lives – family, friend or stranger – it will be a touch for healing, a touch for life, and a touch for love.