DETAILED HOMILY FOR THE 13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: THE POWER OF DIVINE TOUCH
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: One of the greatest stories of the ancient Greek Mythology is that of the war between Antaeus and Hercules. Antaeus, like Hercules, was of gigantic stature and marvelous strength. Whenever Antaeus and Hercules engaged in mortal combat, Hercules proved to be the strongest, but every time he had Antaeus exhausted and point of defeat, his flesh would touch Mother Earth, and his strength was mysteriously renewed, and he resumed the conflict with fresh vigor. Hercules finally slew the mighty Antaeus by performing the titanic feet of lifting him into the air where he was out of touch with the earth. The Greeks were saying by this legend that there is great power in touch. The earth was the source of life for Antaeus, and when he could not keep in touch with his source of life he lost his power, and, therefore, lost his life.
Beloved in Christ, the above story, despite being a myth, yet the truth it teaches is a fact: Direct contact with the source of life, with the palpitating heart of things, revitalizes you and rejuvenates the flow of energy. The people who are really enthused and alive on any issue are those who are in touch with the heart of the issue. On the other hand, if you are out of touch and have no contact, you are like a branch cut off the vine, and you will wither and waste away.
That is why in today’s Gospel reading, we experience two beautiful examples of faith, that illustrate the power of Divine touch, viz: touching Jesus and being touched by Jesus. First, was the hemorrhagic woman, who touched Jesus and got resuscitated from her helpless state. And secondly, was Jairus daughter, who received a divine touch that overturned the hopelessness of the family into joy and hopefulness. The woman came to Jesus and Jesus brought healing and peace. Jairus put his trust in Jesus, and Jesus brought life where there once was death; indicating that the Jesus is the only answer to every hopelessness and helplessness.
The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, confirms that God is the only source of life and vitality; while explaining the need for us not to loose being in touch with God for our perfect and constant renewal of health in body and soul, and to share God’s immortal Life forever.
In the second reading, St Paul who chided the Corinthian community to show generosity to their suffering , starving Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, living in poverty and sickness, uses Jesus’ show of generosity and kindness as an exemplary.
*THE POWER OF TOUCH*
Touch is one of the five senses in the human person. The sense of touch is controlled by a huge network of nerve endings and touch receptors in the skin known as the somatosensory system, which when aided by the sensory neurons and neural pathways responds to changes at the surface or inside the body.
Nevertheless, every one of us receives tactile information about the world around us every second of the day. Right now, as you are sitting in the pew, your butt is being squished into your chair. As you read this, your fingertips are probably touching a mouse, or swiping the glass of your phone.
So, all of nature is a witness to the power of touch. The power of touch must be taken seriously in all realms of life.
Science is all based on the principle of the necessity of touch. How many times have you wondered why your phone charger, TV, or some other electrical appliance, has stopped working, only to discover that the problem was a loose connection somewhere? Something was not touching and there was no contact being made, and all electric power depends upon contact.
Modern studies are revealing that touching is essential to both physical and mental health. Many babies have died in their first year due to marasmus. This is a wasting away caused by a lack of loving touch. Life will not survive without the touch of love. The same is true for animals. They must be licked when they are new born in order to survive. Mother animals do not lick their young just to keep them clean, but to keep them alive and healthy. The very power of life is in the touch.
If the plant world is not kept in touch with mother earth (Geotropism), no life can exist.
Consequently, if we human beings cut off from God, our primary and fundamental source of vitality, we are nothing but a withering plant that has been cut off from the bud. That is why Jesus tells us, “cut off from me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
So, once you break the current of contact, you will definitely lose your power. It is just a fact of life in the realm of science as well as in nature. No touch means no power.
*THE HEMORRHAGIC WOMAN AND THE POWER OF DIVINE TOUCH*
There is nothing Jesus touched that never experienced divine transformation. They all felt the power of divine touch. He touched water and the water became wine. He touched the lepers ugly form, or the darkened eyes of the blind, and there came forth beauty and the light of sight. Everything that sin had deformed Jesus could reform or transform by the power of His touch.
The same divine magnate was felt by the unnamed woman in today’s Gospel who received instant healing from a divine touch. Whenever the redactors omit the name of a biblical personality for any reason whatsoever, it’s an invitation for us to insert our own names. She suffered for 12 years, From the time of the birth of Jairus daughter, who also was 12 years, whom Jesus headed to restore to health, this woman had been plagued with a flow of blood. The free flow of 12 in the Gospel text is significant. 12 is one of the numbers of perfection and completeness; indicating that whatever Jesus touches, experiences not just a change, rather, a complete and perfect change and restoration. Such a flow of blood was a social stigma that would exclude her from the women’s court in the temple, and from the synagogue. She was not much better off than a leper, for she would be ostracized, and if she was married she would likely have been divorced and sent away on her own.
But at the power of Divine touch, she never remained the same, it was:
(i) *A TOUCH THAT REVIVED HER HOPE.*
When all the helpers fail and comforts flee, the helper of the helpless and the hope of the hopeless revived her convictions and lost confidence in God’s competence. The book of Tobith says, “I use to go to the physicians to be healed, and the more they anointed me with their medicines, the more my eyes were blinded by the films, until they were totally blinded” (Tobith 2:10).
But he who changest not, abides unto her.
(ii) *A TOUCH THAT RESTORED HER HEALTH.*
Imagine that touch, boom, that vanished 12 years ailment and restored 12 years of futile treatment, and now it is all over by the power of a touch. Touching Christ, or being touched by Christ, is like making contact with a live wire. There is an immediate effect. It is like hitting a switch and having immediate light in place of darkness, because, “Only him can do what no man can do” (Acts 4:12).
(iii) *A TOUCH THAT RENEWED HER HISTORY*
With that special touch, she never remained the same. Her story got retold and rewritten unto good. History is filled with new potential now, for as a healed woman she is free again to enter the temple and synagogue, and to associate with people everywhere. Her whole history is radically renewed by this touch, because, “for those who love God, everything must surely work out for their own good” (Rom 8:28).
*ALWAYS BE IN TOUCH WITH FAITH*
One most important denominator that connects the two healings in the Gospel reading, and generally, the three readings is FAITH. _Fr Chidubem Ohaeri_ defines it as, *F-FINDING A-ASSURANCE I-IN T-TOUCHING H-HIM (FAITH).* The woman found assurance that she was going to be healed by the touch. Jairus had the convincing assurance that a touch from Jesus would heal his ailing and dying daughter. We then ask ourselves: *DO WE FIND ASSURANCE IN TOUCHING HIM? DO WE FIND ASSURANCE IN OUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS OTHER THAN GOD? DO WE FIND ASSURANCE IN SYNCRETISM, SORCERY, CHARMS AND OCCULTIC OR MARINE AIDS? THEY WILL DEFINITELY FAIL YOU…*
Note that, in our faith-based experience, *DELAY IS NOT DENIAL.* Imagine what this woman was passing through for 12 years.. So, when there is delay, God expects you to learn more about Him. Then He will receive more glory and your faith will grow.
God never fails! *IT IS A DIVINE ASSURANCE* .
Finally, a familiar and common story was narrated about a group of kindergarten pupils who set out for an escortion with their school bus in the company of their class teacher. As the car sped into the high way, there was a break failure. It became obvious they were in a turbulent and tempestuous situation. Everyone in the bus knew there was danger as the bus tossed and sped uncontrollably with reckless abandon; except one Kelvin, who was indifferent over the whole panic and brouhaha in the bus. Kelvin went ahead to play as if all is well. The irate teacher, slapped him and called his attention to his sheer indifference, “Are you stupid, Kelvin? (She ranted), the bus lost control and everyone is panting, gasping and praying for safety, whereas you are playing.” Kelvin, laughed out loud and replied, “Auntie, the driver of this car is my father. Have you forgotten? He knows I’m in this bus and in his ever caring gestures will do anything to ensure I’m not hurt. I’m convinced and sure of that. Panic not auntie.” Eventually, the father got control of the car .
Beloved, did you just hear that young boy? God our father is still handling the steering. Has your own predicament lasted upto 12 years or more? Listen to Kelvin once again, “He will never allow you perish because he loves you personally.”
Dear Lord, Help us to remember the great faith this woman with hemorrhage manifested. And to boldly come to you whenever we need physical, emotional, or spiritual healing, knowing that you will always help and heal us. Amen.
*_GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_