Mothers’ Union Devotion Sunday 7th March – the Third Sunday of Lent
Longing for Personal Touch
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her haemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’ Luke 8. 43-48
We are physical beings who experience the world through our senses one of which is touch. To be deprived of touch can feel like being deprived of our humanity. The haemorrhaging woman who encountered Jesus did not meet him on dust track in the middle of nowhere. They met in the middle of a crowd that had been eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus from his travels. These people had no concerns about the everyday physical contact which was a natural part of their lives. The woman, however, was very conscious of the preciousness of touch. She might well have spent the last twelve years with little physical contact. Maybe the odd doctor or healer but not from the people around her. Their fear of her condition overriding their compassion.
Touch, however, is so powerful, so personal that Jesus immediately became aware of the slightest of touches on the fringe of his clothes. A touch that conveyed so much hope, so much trust but also so much hurt, loss and loneliness. During this time of Lent when we are handing over to Jesus the burdens, we have acquired over the past year it is important to think about our physical needs as well as our emotional needs. It may be that you have spent lockdown in a household with other people, a husband, a wife, your children or someone else, it might be that you have been alone, or it might be that even though you were not alone you had to avoid touching those in your bubble for fear of cross-infection. Whatever your circumstances each of us has had reduced physical contact which has led to feelings of displacement.
When someone loses a sense, they must undergo a period of readjustment in which they find ways to manage life using the senses that remain. This is what we have had to do in lockdown. We can hear others on the phone. See them when they come to drop shopping off or on video calling. We know that this situation is temporary even if longer than we expected but that does not reduce the painful longing for the touch of a human hand, a hug, a kiss. While we are waiting for them to come again, we can take the time to acknowledge our needs, our hopes and our desires. Then reach out to Jesus in faith that he can relieve our burdens and bring healing into our lives.
With all my love and prayers,