June 28, 2015 (From our parish bulletin)
In Mark’s gospel (5:21-43) we read about two healing miracles. Jairus’ daughter is cured and so is the woman who has suffered hemorrhages for twelve years. Jairus had the courage to ask Jesus for healing for his daughter and the ill woman simply wanted to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment because she did not feel worthy of healing or even being within his presence.
We all need to seek Jesus for healing. I know some of you are shy about your faith, simply because you do not feel worthy of such an encounter of love. If there is one thing I could change about the Church today, it is this sense or perception of feeling unworthy by so many people. I want you to go for it, touch Jesus’ hem and see what happens. Pray as you are, not how you think Jesus wants you to be.
Over the years, I have watched people who sit in the last pews of all the churches in which I have served. I know that some of you want to hide in the back so not to be noticed. I understand that you do not want to use your voices to sing out when the hymns begin because you do not feel that your voices matter in the collective worship. I know that you are hesitant to offer your voices in response to the prayers of the Mass because somehow you already feel judged by God and tender from the ambiguous welcome you sense from people around you.
I realize that some of you hesitate to walk down the aisle of the church to the altar table to receive the Eucharist because you feel unworthy to taste the Body and Blood of Christ. You have heard all of your life that your decisions, your choices, your life circumstances and even those you love may keep you from the grace of opening your hands to receive the living Christ. I understand with my entire heart that some of you only want to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and that will be enough for you. Meanwhile, you hide in the corner of the church, thinking that no one else will see your hesitation or come close to you to ask you to participate in our community or join a committee or in some way serve beyond your expertise. You want to simply reach out to Jesus blindly and hope for the best.
I learn a great deal from people who desire to reach out to Jesus’ garment in quiet and hesitation. Many of you are shy and do not believe that you have enough faith to make a difference. I listen with great care to the stories of people who are searching for the healing of Jesus but have never really experienced it in their lives. I hope that you will never give up the search. I pray that you may enter into our worship with a full and active realization that you belong even though your music teacher once told you that you couldn’t sing.
I hear from people that there are many people in our neighborhood and in our city looking for something new and hope filled, but they cannot quite put their fingers on what that might be. You are looking for your faith to make sense, to be fed by preaching and to feel that you belong. I listen to many of you who simply want your church to mean something to your aches and pains, your divorces and lost children or your father’s new diagnosis of dementia.
I want you to know that touching the hem of Jesus is all it takes. You do not have to sing every song or even feel that your name is known in this community. You do not have to be perfect. In fact, throw that notion out some stained-glass window, please! The only thing that I would encourage you to pray about is that your hand belongs on Jesus’ garment. In other words, your life matters to Jesus. He wants to heal your dissatisfaction about the Church or your guilt over how you have raised your children. You and Jesus belong together. No matter how you need to find him, please do so. No matter how you think you are negatively perceived within the Church, let it go. Touch the garment of the living Christ just as you are and you will be clothed in mercy and peace.
Here are some things to consider as you reach out to touch the hem of Jesus:
Jesus, I ache for healing because________________________
Help me reach out beyond my hesitation so ________________________.
Jesus, help me to get over my feeling of unworthiness_____________________.
Jesus, sometimes I feel all alone in my faith and so I ___________________.
Jesus, claim me as your own so that _____________________
Heal me O Lord, come to my aid and ________________________