Grace to you!
One of the most incredible miracles I witnessed as a teen was at a Marian Eucharistic retreat in Nsukka, a town in the eastern part of Nigeria. It was about a disabled person. He was brought to the foot of the exposed Blessed Sacrament as the Church worshipped. He received healing and walked.
Here in the United States, I use to serve as an associate pastor at Saint Brigid Church in Hanford, California. Hanging on the left wall of the Church, close to the sanctuary, is a crutch. It belonged to a man healed of his handicap during a parish retreat (mission) in that church years ago.
Across churches, pilgrimage centers, and Eucharistic adoration sites in many parts of the world, there are incredible testimonies of divine healing. Some people doubt the miracles of God. But those who are blessed to receive this incredible gift know it is true and real. I have seen it with much more frequency, even in my own ministry, that I have no doubts about how God works in strange ways.
God goes on healing and touching people's lives. We read the incredible healing miracles in the Gospel of Matthew 9:18-26. We notice how a woman suffering from bleeding touched the tassel of the Lord's clothes and healed. The touch was that of faith. The Lord, who is the object of true faith, knows who has touched him. He knows who has accepted his presence in faith. He responds in kind.
Remember that a typical Jew wears the kind of tassel Jesus wore. We read from the Book of Numbers (15:37-41) that the tassel (Tsiitsit) was required to be worn all day by the practicing Jew. It would serve as a reminder of the commandments and fidelity to the Law. It was also a physical sign showing they are different from the world around them, dedicated to the Lord. By wearing this, the Lord was showing he was at home with the customs of his people.
The deeper religious meaning in this context, when the above event is read in the light of Christ, is evident. Touching the Lord's tassel, the woman was, in faith, connecting with the Law and the Lawgiver. She was touching the Word made flesh and bringing her life and ways to submit to the way of the Word become flesh. She was establishing a connection with the Word. She was demonstrating reverence for the Torah and the Lawgiver, the Divine Word itself. The response was a miracle of healing, just like the divine response to faith is the miracle of salvation for anyone who touches. This touch happened in between the process of the second.
Here is the second touch. This time the Lord Jesus himself stretches out his hand to a dead body of a girl. He lifts her hand (a divine helping hand) and pulls the dead up, given her life (Mt 9:24-26).
In this case, the Lord pulls us, actively saving us as he always does.
Thus, in these two stories brought together in Matthew 9: 18-26, there are two touches of Divine Embrace. One is when we accept the gift of faith and stretch our hands to touch the one who saves. The other is when the merciful Lord, responding to the pleas of the heart of the Church at prayer, lifts us in our weakness, giving us new life in him. In both cases, his grace begins and completes the process.
The official in the story (Mt:18) who knelt to plead the Lord for the healing of his daughter, was the symbol of the Church at prayer. We kneel in Liturgy, praying for God to raise the dead soul and world to new life. Our petitions work.
When the Lord is touched through faith, we heal. When the Lord touches us as we open our hearts in faith, we heal too. In sum, no one who encounters the Lord goes home the same. Healing and grace, salvation, accompany them.
Lord, thank you for your touch. In it is healing, saving grace. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Week 14: Hos 2:16, 17C-18, 21-22; Mt 9:18-26]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.