Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
The English language is funny sometimes. Words get used in strange ways, being given meanings when used in conjunction with other words that the word itself might not otherwise connote.
For instance, we insert words into structures where their presence is inconsistent. “Well, that’s pretty silly,” you might say. But in so saying, you just proved the point, for what does “pretty” mean? And what purpose does it have in such an expression?
You get the idea.
So it is with respect to the word “touch”. We know what the word is supposed to mean:
Touch—(v): to cause or permit a part of the body, especially the hand or fingers, to come into contact with so as to feel.
But we use the word differently at times. There is the phone advertisment from a couple of decades ago that said (with respect to long-distance calling), ‘Reach out and touch someone.’ They certainly weren't talking about "fingers feeling".
The secular company for which I work has a Korean agent with whom we work closely. While his English is far better than my Korean, it always puts a smile on my face when he speaks about contacting someone, and in his understanding of our English, he doesn't say, "I contacted him." Rather, he says, “I touched him.”
In today’s Gospel (Luke 8:41-56) we’re told that the woman with the issue of blood came behind Him and touched the border of His garment. In this phrase, the word touched is the Greek word haptomai, which translates to touch, but also to ‘attach oneself to.’ Perhaps the later is too aggressive, for the woman clearly did not seek to draw attention to herself. She came in faith. We are told in the Gospel of St. Matthew (9:21) that she believed, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.’ It is this level of firm belief and conviction with which she came this day to where our Lord was, in the presence of a throng of people. We can picture this poor unfortunate and quite ill woman, likely on her knees such that she would not be noticed, but reaching out so that her finger would come in contact with, so as to feel the garment our Lord wore.
What was her reward? We know from the Gospel of St. Mark, ‘Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.’ Do we hear the words of the Evangelist? Immediately! She need not see. She need not inspect her body for the affliction. She knows it is gone. All this BEFORE the Lord calls out for her to show herself and to testify to that which has happened to her.
St. Luke reports that at this point she is filled with fear. ‘She came trembling and fell down before Him,’ telling her story.
This woman ‘touched’ the Lord in several ways that relate to our English language. There was the physical touch. We can picture her fingers in contact with the garment of our Lord. She felt it.
But she felt something more than linen. The ‘touch’ executed here linked not skin of a finger to woven cloth. Her touch linked a body in decay to its only real Physician. This touch linked a spirit filled with the only hope she had that remained to the Source of that hope. She ‘reached out and touched” the Lord spiritually.
What do we take away from this encounter? We are not so very much different from this woman. Each of us has infirmity and wounds that border on incapacitating us. And we know that our Lord has the ability to heal all that ails us.
But do I truly try to touch Him? He is giving all of us the call to do so. It is from His lips that His instruction to us comes—’Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’ (Mat 7:7)
All that needs to ‘change’ is my own heart, my own repentant state of mind, and my firm conviction and belief that He meant exactly what He said.