“Who touched me?” The question “Who touched me?” tells me something about Jesus. Physical touch dots the life of Jesus. Not only the woman with the hemorrhage, but so many of the sick he cured and the dead he raised – so often he touched them. And Jesus let others touch him. How expressive his touch must have been – the touch of God on our skin! How consoling, how comforting, how strengthening!
“Who touched me?” tells me something about myself. Touch is communication; touch says something – and says it in a way nothing else can rival. With a touch I tell you I care… I like you… I love you… I’m sorry for your troubles… I rejoice in your joy… I share your sadness, your weakness, your pain… I understand… I don’t know what to say… I congratulate you… I bless you… I accept you… I know how you feel. And so on. There is little that touch cannot say.
Who touched me in our eight years at Christ Our Hope? Whom have I touched? Why, God; countless women, men, and children. Our whole life is touch. “Who touched me?” tells me something about parish life. Parish life, at its root, I find admirably symbolized in the gospel story of the bleeding woman. Jesus Christ is here, is really present among us. That living presence makes it possible for me to reach out to him. If I do, he turns to me, looks for me, yearns to live in me.
This touch of Christ finds a physical reflection in our sacramental life. Here is a ceaseless touching that gives life, that heals, that makes two one. I touch water to a freshly born child, and God’s life streams through her. A bishop lays hands on a young person, oils him with chrism, and a new outpouring of the Spirit empowers him to witness to his faith. I touch a fellow sinner with words of forgiveness. I anoint a sick body, and God’s life strengthens frail flesh.
I touch to a hand what looks like bread, touch to lips what looks like wine, and fragile flesh ingests eternal life. A man and a woman link hands to symbolize their endless oneness, and in so touching they touch God to each other. Now the touch of Christ and the sacramental touch is reflected in our human exchange, in the touch of this Christian community. We must, Christ told us, love one another and those outside these walls as he has loved us.
This demands that I take the initiative; I dare not wait to be loved. It is my Christian responsibility, my Christian calling, to reach out and touch another human person in need. At times it will mean physical touch. But even here the touch of my hand or my arm, my lips or my body, should be expressive of something deeper, fuller richer: it is a symbol of my whole self. I touch you. And because I am touching you with my love, I am touching to you the love of Christ.
Christian touch, like all human touch, is not one-sided; it is an exchange. In touching, I am touched. Whether it is my hand or my heart that reaches out to another, I not only give life, I get life. When you leave this church today, will the touch of Christ and this worshiping community open you to those who need your touch because they need your love? It is a thrilling experience to realize it was not so much you as Christ within you. You will ask in wonder “who touched me?”
Paul A. Magnano