Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – 1st July 2018

Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. Gospel

Every human being has a need to be touched. Jesus touched the leper. He had no need to do so to heal him. By touching him, Jesus broke the law demanding separation (cf the first reading), and so made himself an outcast, having to stay ‘outside in places where nobody lived.’

Jesus often touched people. He understood that touch has its own power to communicate, and that some people need touch for reassurance of acceptance. Jesus put his fingers into the ears of a deaf man and touched his tongue with spittle (Mark 7:34). He took a blind man by the hand and put spittle on his eyes (Mark 8:32). People brought children ‘for him to touch them.’ (Mark 10:13)

Like others, Jesus himself appreciated being touched. In chapter 7 of Luke we have the story that gave scandal: Jesus allowed himself to be touched and anointed by a woman who was a known sinner.