Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Reaching ... Touching ... Healing ... Whom

Today's invitation begins with reading Mark 5:24-34.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”’He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
The prayer of the day asks us to consider the places in our own lives that are bleeding, and continues with the question, "Have you judged someone for something they did to you? Your judgment can anchor their sin into your soul with a spiritual fishhook."
I've no problem recognizing many of my own broken places, and accepting the soul-freeing wisdom of forgiveness. But I believe the metaphors are mixed up and the story's real power missed if we turn it into seeking wholeness for our own run-of-the-mill places of brokenness -- loneliness, illness, discouragement, jealousy. Certainly those can be real and soul-killing. But the issue at stake in the strange little story from Mark is, well, the issue. That is to say, the woman's ritual uncleanness due to menstrual bleeding makes her untouchable and, when she touches Jesus she makes him unclean as well.
The reaching and touching in faith obliterates the social stigma at stake in the story. So the question for my meditation this evening is not what everyday brokenness do I carry with me that I need to let go of, but rather, what socially constructed marks of exclusion am I accepting unquestioningly that unjustly condemn others and leave my soul at stake? What socially constructed systems of domination am I participating in that crush my own soul and those of so many others? What powers and principalities are ruling my own heart?
So, while I certainly pray for healing of my own brokenness on multiple layers, as I read this story from Mark, I am most mindful of my need for courage to extend a healing hand to others, and to allow myself to be touched even when I'd prefer not to be.

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